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CVSD joins other districts with masks-optional policy for fall 2021

Conewago Valley School District will continue to perform contact tracing and run a COVID-19 data dashboard as it begins this school year, but masks and vaccines will be optional.

The board heard from community members who spoke in person or submitted comments to be read during the meeting.

Some commenters asked whether the district is considering a mask mandate as community transmission levels of the novel coronavirus have increased and guidelines from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) have been updated.

Others wanted assurance that a mask or vaccine mandate would not be in place.

Superintendent Christopher Rudisill said vaccines will be left to “individual choice.”

Rudisill said parents can stay up to date on cases in the district with the COVID-19 dashboard on the district’s website. The dashboard was also available last year.

“It won’t be as detailed, but we’ll continue to do that because it’s important to the public to know where we are at all times,” Rudisill said.

He stressed that parents should keep their children home if they show signs of illness.

While he said the district believes in-person instruction is the best option for children, Rudisill said everyone will have to cooperate to help create a successful school year.

“Just like last year, though, we’re going to have challenges and we need to be flexible and change at a moment’s notice if that happens,” Rudisill said. “Again, we’ll constantly evaluate the conditions and situations and make sure whatever we’re doing is in the best interests of our students. Obviously, when we look at what’s going to be successful this school year, it’s all of us working together.”

When asked by one commenter what would happen if the state does implement a mandate, Rudisill said the school board would meet to discuss the matter if necessary.

“We’d have to look at what are the repercussions if we don’t follow it, because right now with our health and safety plan, if you listened last week, there’s money tied to that plan from the federal government,” Rudisill said.

School year preparation

School leaders updated the board and said they feel prepared for the new school year.

Christopher Bowman, principal of New Oxford High School, thanked staff who helped prepare for the school year.

“Once again, they are second to none,” Bowman said. “We have quite an extensive campus, and I know they are on schedule to have our buildings ready, cleaned and ready to go for as much normalcy as we hope to return to this fall.”

Autumn Zaminksi, the new principal of Conewago Township Elementary School, introduced herself at the meeting.

“I can’t go through this night without thanking Dr. (Larry) Sanders and Mr. (Christopher) Cobb for assisting me as I transition to my new role at CTE, as well as the entire administration team,” Zaminksi said. “If you don’t know, I am the new principal at CTE following behind Dr. Sanders. So, I have big shoes to fill, and I appreciate all of the questions that they have fielded.”

Zaminski was previously the assistant principal of Conewago Valley Intermediate School.

Christopher Cobb, principal of New Oxford Elementary School, said staff are centralizing student supplies to improve their inventory and reduce costs. He also said plans to improve the playground at the school are being developed.

Assistant Superintendent Sharon Perry also expressed optimism and gratitude.

“I’d like to thank the administrators for all their hard work this summer for helping us prepare to open our schools for children, and I trust that it’s going to be a wonderful year,” Perry said. “I really look forward to it.”

Rudisill agreed.

“I’ll echo again to our administrators: I’m just proud to work with you, and the work you were able to do this summer to prepare for this coming school year is unbelievable and makes me proud,” he said.

Recognition

The board recognized New Oxford High School for being “… accepted as one of 50 Pennsylvania National Guard Associations Guard Friendly High Schools for the 2021-22 school year,” according to the agenda notes.

Elizabeth Miller was also named for receiving an honorable mention in the Hershey History Writing Contest.

The next regular board meeting will be held at 7:30 p.m. Monday, Sept. 20.

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Imari Scarbrough is a freelance journalist. She was a staff newspaper reporter for five years before becoming a freelancer in 2017. She has written on crime, environmental issues, severe weather events, local and regional government and more.

You can visit her website at ImariJournal.com.

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