Slippery Rock school board members on Monday night discussed a variety of issues related to COVID-19 during its first remote meeting.
The hour-long work session was conducted via conference call with each participant dialing in and entering a code.
Board members identified themselves before speaking, and the agenda was posted on the district’s website earlier Monday along with the phone number and code.
Board members agreed to send a food service application to the Pennsylvania Department of Education that will designate the district an “open site” due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
That will allow the district to serve meals to all students and their siblings ages 18 and under. The district will be reimbursed at federal and state funding rates.
For the past several weeks while schools have been closed, the district has been distributing meals on Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays at the middle school and Moraine Elementary, said Paul Cessar, board secretary and the district’s business manager.
The state initially said those meals were meant for students who qualified for the free and reduced lunch program, but that requirement has been lifted, he said.
“This will open it up to a much bigger population,” said Superintendent Dr. Alfonso Angelucci.
The district has been handing out up to 20 meals on those three weekdays while other districts have been preparing hundreds of meals.
It will take a few days for PDE to give the district the OK to move forward with the change, Cessar said.
Those distributing the meals have to wear gloves and masks, the food prep area is disinfected daily, and security is present to make sure everyone maintains at least 6 feet of space, he said.
The curbside meals are handed out at the two schools between 11 a.m. and 1 p.m.
Board members also approved an agreement between the district and Armstrong Cable for internet access being provided to 25 families with students in the district for up to three months.
Brett Harper, the district’s director of technology, has been instrumental in helping families who need accessibility for online instruction, Angelucci said.
There are still some families without internet access, and the district continues to work on solutions, he said.
Board members discussed cyber education moving forward. It’s something that would normally take months to put together, and school districts had it ready in just a few weeks, Angelucci said.
Board Vice President Vito Pilosi III thanked everyone who helped get it done, adding it’s not perfect, but it’s something.
“We’re also leaning a lot from it,” he said.
He questioned whether more families would want to continue using cyber education.
Board member Heather Scott said her two children are caught up on their school work, but they miss the social aspect of school. She believes more students would prefer the classroom to cyber education.
“It’s something we really need to explore going forward,” board member Mark Taylor said.
He believes cyber education will be needed again, and said that the teachers and administrators have gone above and beyond.
Board member Diane Double said she’s impressed with how it’s worked out, and that school officials need to look at what is working and what isn’t.
The board may have to form an ad hoc committee to further study the issue, Angelucci said.
And since schools in Pennsylvania are closed indefinitely, the district also needs to look at field trips that the board previously approved for the rest of this school year, he said.
They may need to be formally canceled in order for the costs to be refunded.
Board President Sara Whitman said that some groups are hoping their trips will be rescheduled for the summer, like the band trip, and a class trip to Washington, D.C.
Board members decided to table the field trip issue until the next meeting, which will be held at 7:30 p.m. April 20.
Cessar said he hopes that meeting will be conducted in a video format through a platform like Zoom.