Harrisburg School District approves re-opening plan


HARRISBURG, Pa. (WHTM) — Harrisburg School District is the latest to approve its COVID-19 re-opening plan on Monday.

“At the end of the day — you know — safety had to trump all,” said Christoper Celmer, acting superintendent of Harrisburg School District.

Under this plan, that means mandatory masks for students at all times, limiting building visitors and eating lunch in classrooms.

It also calls for some fluidity. Officials said the plan will likely change, depending on the virus.

“We just want to continue to monitor what is happening, specifically in the city of Harrisburg, which has been hit hard by COVID-19,” Celmer said.

That hard hit helped inspire an all-online start to the school year, but on an undetermined date, students will start gradually returning to the classroom, or they can select option “B.”

“If you’re a family that selects that option, you will be in an online commitment for one semester, which is through January 2021,” Celmer said.

Harrisburg’s plan rolled out the same day that the state unveiled guidelines for school districts. The guidelines determine each county’s risk level of transmission in schools by the incidence rate per 100,000 people and the total percentages of positive cases in the county.

Right now, Dauphin is considered “moderate.”

“I get parents who definitely want kids to be back in school and decry any attempt to do anything else, and I get other parents who say how can we possibly put all of our children at risk and all of our education should be remote,” said Dr. Rachel Levine, Pennsylvania Health Secretary.

Despite the challenges, Celmer said the district will always put students first.

“I have over 7,500 lives, when you look at the Harrisburg School District between students and staff, and I wouldn’t be able to sleep at night knowing that I didn’t do everything I could to protect,” Celmer said.

HBGSD families are asked to select which learning option they want for their students by the end of this week. To make your decision, email covid19@hbgsd.us or call 717-703-4000.

District officials also said they will be making announcements to provide more food and technology to their families in the upcoming weeks.

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