Allentown School District plans to return to classrooms in April

Written by on January 26, 2021

Allentown School District plans to return to classrooms in April

By Tyler Pratt

January 26, 2021

The Biden Administration is working on a plan to get kids back in school classrooms but Allentown School District officials have said they won’t be ready for in-person learning until mid-April.

Listen to the story.

Allentown was the first school district in the state to go virtual last year. But even though neighboring districts have returned to classroom learning, Allentown Superintendent Thomas Parker says that with 17,000 mostly-low-income students Allentown needs to be extra cautious.

“When we look at the makeup and complexity of our community, even the way our houses are constructed in the community, where families are living closer together, community spread happens in multiple places and multiple spaces,” Parker says.

Some parents are upset. They say electronic devices and apps don’t always work.  And they worry about their kids mental health.
Jessica Ortiz told the school board that she watches her daughter’s classes, and kids aren’t learning. 

“All I hear all day long, ‘So and so sit up or so and so pay attention and so get out from under the covers or under the bed or turn your camera on,’ This is not teaching,” Ortiz says. 

Some parents are concerned about the impacts of isolation on their children. Others describe problems with apps the district is using.

But other parents say it’s safer to keep their kids at home. Tammy Eisenhard says her children caught the coronavirus.

“I am very thankful that we are home right now, and that this is not spreading like crazy among the schools,” Eisenhard says. 

Other families say they don’t feel it’s safe yet. Lisa Conover is a parent who also sits on the school board. She’s experienced the devastating effects of COVID-19 in the community first-hand. 

“I buried three aunts and an uncle and a best friend and her husband. We’re just trying to keep our kids safe. We’re not afraid, we’re not trying to not educate them,” Conover says.

The school district is currently working on a hybrid plan and upgrading 100-year-old buildings with new heating and cooling systems. Officials are hopeful students can return to class in mid-April.

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