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School year off to a smooth start

With the beginning of the school year under their belts, the principals of Catasauqua Area School District took a moment to reflect on how everything went with the new changes.

“The first week of school at Sheckler was a great success,” Sheckler Elementary School Principal Eric Dauberman said. “Due to the planning, preparation and leadership by our district office and our school board, my staff and I had the resources we needed to open our doors to our students safely and effectively. Our kids and families have been diligent with regards to following our plan and adhering to the rules in place to be able to return safely five days a week.”

During the Sept. 8 school board meeting, Dauberman reported all the new procedures were going smoothly, including new arrival and dismissal plans, modified lunches and transportation.

“Fantastic isn’t a strong enough word,” he said.

Dauberman expressed his thanks to Catasauqua Police Department, especially Police Chief Douglas Kish, for organizing the lower lot traffic pattern and for assisting with making sure everything runs smoothly.

Transportation went better than expected, according to Dauberman. The bus cards and assigned seating on buses ensured a seamless transition during dismissal. He also expressed his thanks and appreciation to the maintenance and janitorial staff for getting the school ready for students.

Credit was given to the new hires who were brought on staff for the online learning students. According to Dauberman, it is going extremely well.

“We’re running two schools simultaneously between in-person and online instruction,” Dauberman said.

Catasauqua Middle School Principal Melissa Inselmann echoed the same sentiments as Dauberman.

“It is unbelievable how smooth everything is going,” she said.

Inselmann noted the police department has also helped direct arrivals at the middle school and the additional lunch location is making for a safe and smooth flow for students.

“The kids have caught on really quickly to the procedures,” she noted. “The parents are very supportive. The staff is very supportive. We are doing well.”

Catasauqua High School Principal Adam Schnug agreed the start of the school year has been smooth with very few problems.

He noted they had a list of potential problems with solutions so they would be ready, but they did not have to address any major issues. All of the problems they ran into were worked through, and Schnug said he is confident they will continue to troubleshoot any future problems and move forward.

“Our students, community and staff worked hard to prepare for a first week of school that has never been done before,” he said.

Schnug reported they did not have any problems with students not following procedures, such as wearing masks and staying home and attending virtually if they feel sick.

He noted approximately 40 percent of the high school’s students are attending classes virtually. He reported seeing the students in class collaborating with the students attending virtually in several of the classes he visited during the first week.

“Here we are the first week of school doing something we’ve never done before, and our teachers are not missing a beat,” he said. “With this type of commitment from everyone, I am confident this will be a successful school year despite the COVID-19 pandemic.”

He noted he was especially impressed with the freshmen who came in and adapted well from the start.

“For me personally, this week was great because students were actually in the building,” he said. “They’re the real reason we come to work and do what we do. Even though last spring ended with full online instruction, it didn’t feel the same not seeing them daily.”

Superintendent of Schools Robert Spengler shared his impressions of the start of the school year as well.

“CASD had a tremendous 2020 school opening,” he said.

He gave credit to the online learners and their teachers, as well as the in-person students and teachers adapting to the changes in the buildings.

“Personally, I am grateful to our community, parents, students, staff, administration and board of school directors for the exhaustive and comprehensive planning and collaboration that occurred over the last months, resulting in robust programs for the students of our communities. I continue to be impressed by the dedication and ingenuity our stakeholders bring to the virtual and traditional classrooms.”

“It truly has been a team effort,” noted Assistant Superintendent Dr. Christina Lutz-Doemling in regards to the start of the school year.

All of the principals, as well as members of administration and the school board, thanked the tireless efforts of the technology, custodial, transportation and maintenance teams for their work behind the scenes to make everything run smoothly, as well as the faculty and staff for their work in the physical and virtual classrooms.

All mentioned they are excited to see what the rest of the year brings with innovations and new experiences.