Both Bradford and Johnsonburg Area School Districts have opted to have students return to in-person instruction today, as suggested by recently modified guidelines from the Pennsylvania Department of Education.

A post to social media from Johnsonburg Superintendent Dennis Crotzer on Jan 7 announced that students will return to in-person instruction today. The statement also mentioned a hope that no new cases of COVID-19 will occur in the district, so that students can continue to follow an in-person instruction format.

Meanwhile, a letter from Bradford Superintendent Katy Pude, released via the Remind app, social media and the district’s website, noted that district officials have been looking at recent data on COVID-19 cases in the area. This measure, coupled with the fact the state department modified guidelines for the proposed return to in-person instruction for elementary students and set a recommended return date of Jan 25, even in areas with substantial risk of COVID-19 transmission, led to the decision for all BASD students to return to in-person instruction this week.

The letter explains that mitigation procedures have changed slightly. A new guideline requires shields to reach below the wearer’s chin and not allow for a gap near the forehead. The Bradford School District has shields available if the student was wearing a style that is no longer permitted. Also, students will be required to wear masks at school at all times, with the exception of breaks and lunch.

If the district records a certain number of new cases in a building during a two-week span, those students may be required to return to in-person instruction.

The letter specifically mentions that any student who refuses to wear a mask will not be allowed to attend in-person instruction. It states, “all staff and students must adhere to safety measures outlined in our school Health and Safety plan.”

Pude’s letter also states, “We know how important it is for our students to be physically in our schools as well as the regressions that occur in learning, socialization and mental health when they are not. We also recognize how important our schools are to working families and to the prosperity of our community. However, if we are forced to revert again to an online platform in order to keep our students and staff safe, we will do so without hesitation.”

The letter requests community members follow social distance practices and COVID protocols to help keep the students safe.

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