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FASD updates health and safety plan

The Fairfield Area school board approved a mask-optional health and safety plan during its meeting on Monday evening.

The board typically streams its meetings on its YouTube channel, but the audio during Monday’s meeting was difficult to understand in many places due to some distortion. Superintendent Thomas Haupt helped fill in the gaps.

Haupt said the board unanimously approved its updated health and safety plan, which promises that the district will “continue to encourage students and staff to stay home when not feeling well.”

The plan also advises that it reflects the responsibility of individual students and adults.

“Specifically, the most recent CDC guidance shifts the focus on mitigation efforts from organizations and entities to the individual and households,” the plan states. “This plan prioritizes our ongoing efforts to safely keep our schools open for in-person instruction.”

In the plan, the district states its intention to remain open year-round, but notes that Fairfield Area Cyber Education (FACE) is available for students who would prefer to attend school that way.

“If schools would need to be closed for short periods of time, continuity of education will be provided through remote, asynchronous learning,” the plan states. “Services typically provided during a regular school day would continue in the remote environment as well, including access to meals and counseling/support services.”

Masks will be optional this year, but the plan advises that “adults and students are strongly encouraged to wear a face covering in all school environments such as buildings and transportation due to individual health concerns and to exercise their own caution.”

Most staff “routine professional meetings” will be held in person rather than remotely this year, according to the plan, but students may learn outside “as appropriate.”

The previous health and safety plan was last revised on Feb. 28. While that version said masks were required during times of high COVID-19 transmission in Adams County, the same plan also allowed parents to submit a “Facial Covering/Mask Exclusion Form.” That form had to be signed by a parent as well as a school nurse and school administrator.

In February’s version, all students, regardless of whether they had an exclusion form, were required to remain at home or wear a mask for 10 days after they were exposed to someone with COVID-19.

Haupt said the meeting was relatively quiet.

“Otherwise, we continue to fulfill our staffing vacancies, recognized our new hires, and additionally recognized the following donations: The District received a donation of 2 backpacks filled with school supplies from Dianna Zimmerman valued at approximately $30,” Haupt said via email. “The District received a donation of school supplies, tissues and bacteria wipes from the American Bikers on a Mission valued at approximately $750.”

The board approved hiring two teachers, a part-time special education aide, an online program coordinator, and a secretary for curriculum, special education and student services, according to the agenda. It also added a van and/or bus driver.

The board will hold its next regular board meeting at 7 p.m. Monday, Sept. 12. Meetings are held in the district board room and are livestreamed on the district’s YouTube channel, Fairfield Area School District PA.

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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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