Educators weigh options for in-person vs. virtual learning as vaccines draw closer

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SCRANTON, LACKAWANNA COUNTY (WBRE/WYOU-TV) — Education workers are among the next group outlined by the Pennsylvania Department of Health to receive the COVID-19 vaccine. Once administered, many school districts will weigh their options about when — and if — they will return to in-person learning this year.

One district in Lackawanna County could soon make that decision in the next week, with or without the vaccine. In the Scranton School District, officals are taking a different approach.

Students and teachers are anxious to get back in the classroom… as along as it’s safe.

“With the vaccine rollout moving along we would prefer to wait until teachers are vaccinated before we return to in-person learning,” said Katie Gilmartin, president of the Scranton School Board.

Gilmartin says the nearly 800 educators in the district could be eligible for the vaccine next month.

“I think at this point it is likely that we may be able to do this in a weekend, hopefully in the month of February at Scranton High School.”

Gilmartin’s estimate relies on the state department of health rolling out Phase 1B and its priorities.

At Dunmore School District, vaccine or not, the board could make a decision at a meeting next week to return to some type of in-person learning.

“The next part is how we’re going to ramp up to get the kids back in school probably in a virtual method when we indeed do go back,” said Francis Kranick Jr., Dunmore School Board Director.

Kranick says before Harrisburg mandated districts go all virtual, the district had safety protocols under control to keep everyone safe and can provide the same level of safety now. If educators were vaccinated, that would provide a protection against the virus.

“Even though the kids may still be carriers of it, it would allow the faculty and the staff and the administration to function. You know, doing what they are supposed to be doing,” said Kranick.

The meeting will be held at Dunmore High School’s cafeteria at 6 p.m. next Thursday. There will be a select number of seats availble for the public. The meeting will also be live online.

Kranick encourages parents and staff to submit questions ahead of time.

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