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Cumberland Valley School District considers delay to start of 2020-21 school year
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Cumberland Valley School District considers delay to start of 2020-21 school year

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Cumberland Valley School District officials are mulling an option to possibly delay the start of the 2020-21 school year by up to two weeks for planning purposes.

At a virtual school board meeting last week, Superintendent David Christopher presented a proposal to change the first day of the 2020-21 school year for all students to Sept. 8, the day that follows Labor Day this year.

The Sept. 8 date is two weeks later than the district’s standing 2020-21 start date of Aug. 25 that the school board approved in December 2019. Since then, of course, COVID-19 has changed much of everyday life, closing all public schools in March with students finishing the 2019-20 school year online at home.

Christoper said on Monday that the rapid changes involved with COVID-19 made it virtually impossible for anyone to predict if, when or how schools will be permitted to open for classes in the fall.

“We have a tremendous amount of uncertainty about the new school year. The alternate date we’re proposing here would give us extra time until after Labor Day to prepare for the year ahead of us,” Christopher told the school board. “Things are continuing to change very quickly now and we’re still uncertain about how everything will look for us in the fall.”

In response, Christopher asked the school board on Monday to decide no later than June 22 whether the district should keep Aug. 25 as standing opening date of the 2020-21 school year or move the date two weeks ahead to Sept. 8.

“One of my biggest concerns (about next year) is student transportation if we have to continue social distancing. If we have to redo our entire transportation system for this in 17 weeks, then we’re going to need more time,” Christopher said.

School board members agreed to revisit the matter on June 22 after further consideration. Board members Bud Shaffner, Micheal Gossert and board president Heather Dunn said they favored changing the date to Sept. 8, but member Jevon Ford said the decision should be deferred to health professionals.

“To delay this, we’re pushing us more into the time frame for issues with the flu and COVID together,” Ford said.

Christopher said a survey about the calendar proposal will be sent out this week to district parents and guardians for feedback.

Also last week, the Cumberland Valley School Board approved a resolution establishing the district’s intent to issue one or more series of general obligation bonds not to exceed $53,000,000. District officials said the bonds would be used in part to refinance the remaining principles of the district’s 2017 bond issue of $9,995,000 and 2015 bonds originally issued to the district for $54,360,000.

The district intends to put a portion of remaining funds from the 2020 bond issue toward district building projects, which possibly could include renovations at the former Good Hope Middle School building and Hampden Elementary School.

The district has until December to act on purchasing the bonds.

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