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‘This isn’t ideal’: Tidioute Charter will end ‘unusual’ school year May 29

It’s been an unusual school year, but Tidioute Community Charter School is on target to wrap up on May 29.

A virtual graduation ceremony has been approved and is in the works, according to CEO Doug Allen.

“This isn’t ideal,” Teachers Aide and Advisor Ryleigh Wholeben said. “It will be virtual.”

Wholeben is assembling photos of the seniors, recordings of the speeches, and other materials for the presentation.

“When we are allowed, we will have an in-person ceremony,” Wholeben said.

For now, school officials are looking at August.

All seniors are on schedule to graduate, according to teacher Ryan Guerra, but there is still required work going on. “We are currently at the mid-term point for our fourth nine weeks and our continuity plan. We want to make sure the kids are getting everything that they need.”

“We are sending out our last set of assignments,” Allen said. Those will be collected on May 29.

“We are requiring that the work be completed and turned in,” Guerra said. “We will hold everyone accountable.

“Our continuity of education plan has been working well for our 300 families,” Allen said.

The school is moving forward with plans to open, but probably not as normal, in the fall.

At Wednesday’s board of directors meeting, Allen told board members that Pennsylvania Education Secretary Pedro Rivera expects schools to open in the fall.

Allen said the school is prepared to move into the new year with numerous new requirements in the area of school safety.

Changes that are possible include installation of “sneeze guards… anywhere you can imagine them being helpful,” higher-grade personal protective equipment for the school nurse and possibly other personnel, and increased volumes and locations of sanitation materials.

Those are the simpler changes.

If the school is required to have fewer students in the cafeteria, an additional lunch period could be arranged, Allen said.

Locker rooms may have to be deep-cleaned more frequently to accommodate athletic events, particularly when there are visiting teams.

Finding additional classroom space would be a challenge.

Allen said it is possible the required changes could include having “smaller class sizes. There is talk about having fewer kids in a classroom at any given time. These are things our team here may be thinking about.”

The school has been providing about 400 ‘grab-and-go’ meals per week, Allen said. While that number is low compared to the number of students, the enrollment comes from all over Warren County, and portions of Forest County and Crawford County. Many families can pick up meals in school districts closer to home.

“A lot of our students don’t drive to Tidioute for those meals,” he said. “We have been happy that we’ve been able to serve 400 a week.”

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