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WCSD will return from break in virtual learning format

At the virtual Whitehall-Coplay School Board education/student activities committee meeting Dec. 21, the board discussed whether it would be prudent for students to return to school in a virtual format for the first week of school following winter break, Jan. 4-8, 2021.

St. Luke’s University Health Network and Lehigh Valley Health Network both recommend districts take a proactive approach and go all virtual for the week after winter break, due to an expected increase in cases from large group gatherings, exposure from travel and the lack of social distancing that may occur when families and friends get together to celebrate.

The board cannot vote during a committee meeting, so although there were disagreements, the board decided to allow Whitehall-Coplay School District Superintendent Dr. Lorie Hackett to make the decision.

Hackett said the administration recommended the district go fully virtual for the week following the break. Instead of students attending two days of in-person learning and three days of virtual, they will be participating virtually in both asynchronous and synchronous learning for the duration of the week.

“There’s no right answer. This is a proactive way to manage things,” Hackett said.

According to Hackett, Whitehall High School is one of only two high schools in the area that has not gone fully remote due to numbers of COVID-19 cases, and she feels the district has been diligent about following the health and safety plan. However, she said the number of staff needing to quarantine is rising due to contracting or being exposed to COVID-19.

The board then discussed whether to allow in-house athletic practices to take place starting Jan. 4, 2021, as planned and reached the consensus practices can be held. There are no winter sports competitions taking place during that week.