MILFORD, PA – On January 20, the Delaware Valley school board turned the page on the pandemic, moving quickly through an agenda that included an end to contact tracing and remote …
MILFORD, PA – On January 20, the Delaware Valley school board turned the page on the pandemic, moving quickly through an agenda that included an end to contact tracing and remote learning.
Held in the library without masks or social distancing, the Delaware Valley School District (DVSD) board formally adopted an updated health and safety plan that eliminated contact tracing. The updated plan fundamentally changes the district’s approach to COVID-19.
In an emailed response to questions earlier in the week, DVSD superintendent Dr. John Bell wrote that he would “expect more loosening of rules as we move from the pandemic stage to endemic stage in the coming weeks.“
The DVSD campus’s enforcement of masking had been waning since a federal judge lifted a masking injunction in November, with sporting events and other after-school activities sidestepping COVID-19 safety protocols such as masking and social distancing.
The district has charted an independent path from the start of the pandemic, attracting community support for returning students to the classroom in September 2020, and nimbly navigating a host of complex and changing state and federal rules and mandates. Board president Jack Fisher has presided over a school board in 2021-2022 that has bucked mainstream COVID-19 guidance.
“We’ve been so busy with contact tracing,” Bell said of the elimination of close contact tracing and quarantine tracking that exploded with the omicron strain, “that we are excited to actually have time to do other things, starting tomorrow, most importantly, academic stuff.”
The remote learning option that was reinstated on January 3 to address the omicron virus strain is also ending on all campuses on January 26. Zoom will only be available to students in quarantine.
Dr. Margaret Schaffer, assistant district superintendent, who announced her retirement several months ago, will step down at the end of January. She was the voice of the administration when it opposed the direction the school board was taking as it began to pull back on virus safety measures within the district.
More than two dozen community members attended the meeting, which lasted just under 60 minutes, compared to several last fall that went on for nearly three hours as community members pushed the board in the direction they ultimately pursued. With little debate or controversy, and the board fully united, the DVSD seemed poised to put the minute-by-minute pandemic management behind it.
[This story was updated on 1/28/22 to reflect a larger number of people in attendance than previously reported.]
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