Greensburg Salem to discuss back-to-school options as some seniors return

Jacob Tierney, Tribune-Review, Greensburg, Pa.
·2 min read

Feb. 23—Greensburg Salem seniors now have the option to return to school four days a week, and the district will host a virtual town hall meeting Tuesday to discuss options for bringing more students back to in-person classes.

The district mostly has followed a hybrid model, in which students split their time between in-class education and remote learning. From mid-November to Jan. 19, the district closed schools and went fully remote due to the high number of coronavirus cases in the region.

Just under 200 seniors attend the high school. Some who needed extra academic help were already attending school four days a week, but the district this week opened that option to all seniors, according to Principal David Zilli.

About 60 additional seniors returned to school because of the change. Some chose to stick with the hybrid model, or fully remote learning.

"I think, for the most part, parents do want their students back full time, and I think the students want to be here," Zilli said. "As we met with the students they said 'Hey, we want some semblance of normalcy here.' "

Class sizes are limited to help maintain social distancing, Zilli said. If a class gets too full, the school has set up overflow areas in the library and elsewhere, where students can attend class using remote-learning technology.

On Monday the overflow area housed only a few students in a single class, Zilli said. Overcrowding has yet to pose a problem. "It's going very well," he said. "Teachers are able to handle the numbers in their classroom very well."

The district surveyed parents in all grade levels about the possibility of children returning to school.

Of 1,159 responses, 652 said they wanted school to return to a full five days a week, with 353 saying they'd prefer four days. The remainder favored remote learning or hybrid options.

"I think everyone in the region recognized the need to bring students back on a more regular basis," Superintendent Gary Peiffer said.

The district will have a virtual town hall meeting 6 p.m. Tuesday on the Zoom videoconferencing platform to discuss these options.

Information about the meeting is available at greensburgsalem.org.

Peiffer said there's little to no evidence of coronavirus transmission among students or staff at the schools. Most if not all of the district cases seem to have been contracted outside of school, he said.

Bringing the seniors back four days a week gives the district a chance to test its safety protocols on a small scale while considering a broader return to class, Peiffer said.

"That does give us a nice sample to adjust for things," he said.

Jacob Tierney is a Tribune-Review staff writer. You can contact Jacob at 724-836-6646, jtierney@triblive.com or via Twitter .