Though it’s not official until the board votes on it at the monthly meeting next Tuesday, officials from the Southern Huntingdon County School District announced at the monthly workshop meeting they will be doing a hybrid model to start the school year.

While the board voted in July to go back full-time, guidance released from the state Department of Health and the state Department of Education released guidance earlier this week that schools should open or go to hybrid or online models based on the incidence rate for COVID-19 and the percent positivity for diagnostic testing.

The DOH and PDE recommend districts open their schools full-time if their percent positivity of diagnostic testing is below 5%. As of right now, Huntingdon County is at 6.7%. In that case, DOH and PDE recommend hybrid or online schooling.

“We conducted a survey and met with community groups, and out of 567 participants, 58% supporting a full opening model, while 26% percent had a hybrid model,” said superintendent Dwayne Northcraft. “But what we didn’t realize was the guidance released by PDE and DOH. Nobody knew this was coming.”

With that in mind, Northcraft said the first day for students will be Thursday, Aug. 27, as opposed to Wednesday, Aug. 26, which was the original first day for students.

“This model will comply with the recommendations that were released, and it provides us with enough social distance for elementary and most middle/high school models,” said Northcraft. “If it goes lower, we will go back to face-to-face opening, but the new guidelines did put a twist on it and tie our hands in this.”

He also understands the community wanted face-to-face five days a week, and they will be checking the county’s percent positivity of diagnostic testing rate each week to review it.

Northcraft said the board needs to vote on it, but he was confident the board would vote on this hybrid model.

As to what a hybrid model will look like, Northcraft didn’t have any answers, but he as well as other administrators, will be working on what this plan looks like and they hope to have more answers by the Tuesday, Aug. 18, board meeting.

“We can’t say exactly what it will look like right now, but we know they will be in school in person two to three days a week and not at school two to three days a week,” said Northcraft. “But, we know that with parents and childcare, we wanted you to be able to make those arrangements now.”

District officials released the revised opening information that is to be approved on the district’s website as well as their Facebook page.

Kylie can be reached at khawn@huntingdondailynews.com.

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