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Board to discuss future of Hopewell Area school buildings
On Monday, Jan. 13, the Hopewell Area School Board will begin discussing the future of its five school buildings in earnest
The 7 p.m. meeting will focus on where fourth-graders will be taught going forward.
Last month, VEBH Architects presented a feasibility study of district facilities.
Among the challenges identified was the growth of the elementary population, and the lack of classroom space to accommodate students
Currently, the high school building houses students in grades 9 through 12. The junior high houses students in grades 5 through 8
Three elementary schools – Hopewell Elementary (“Kane Road”), Independence and Margaret Ross – educate students from kindergarten through grade 4.
Several options were provided by VEBH for board consideration. The entire report can be found here.
Parents voice objections to Hopewell Area’s mask mandate
Sarah Fischer prepares to address the Hopewell Area School Board.
Several Hopewell Area School District parents gave an earful to the school board Tuesday about their opposition to a recent decision mandating masks for both COVID-19 vaccinated and unvaccinated students.
Though the meeting was moved to the high school auditorium in expectation of a large turnout, only about 60 residents showed up, a few with signs.
Jamie Sheffield complained that the district was “not allowing our students to live freely on school property.”
“We are not going to settle for our Constitutional rights to be taken away,” she said.
She accused the board of acting unconstitutionally, and threatened legal action.
Along with Moon Area, Hopewell Area voted earlier this month to make masks mandatory to open the 2021-22 school year.
Both districts are requiring that masks be worn inside all district buildings to start the school year as western Pennsylvania experiences a spike in COVID-19 cases.
Beaver County remains designated as high transmission area, according to state data.
But Tuesday, Valerie Hilton complained that Hopewell children were being forced to wear “muzzles, like rabid dogs.”
She argued that drowning, traffic accidents and the flu pose a bigger risk to children than does the COVID-19 virus.
“Have you thought about what kind of damage you are doing to these kids?” Hilton asked.
Sarah Fischer, who said she is a registered nurse, said that masks reduce the ability of children to develop social skills, and can increase fungal infections and other respiratory issues.
Current district policy
This is the mask policy as posted on the Hopewell Area website:
“Based on current CDC updated guidance on facial coverings, the District is requiring masks to be worn for both vaccinated and unvaccinated students and staff when indoors while Beaver County’s transmission rate is at the substantial or high level category based on the CDC’s transmission levels.
“Currently, Beaver County is in the highest level of transmission. The Board of School Directors and administration will monitor the requirement for facial coverings and may adjust this requirement at any time.
“The District may also require masks in the event we see any negative impact on our schools. As was the case last year, our health and safety procedures may change if local, state, or federal orders are put in place. As a reminder, facial coverings are required by the CDC and TSA on school busses (sic).
“Mask exemptions will continue to be considered when the District requires facial coverings. Students and staff are not required to wear facial coverings while outdoors.”