Westmoreland County’s public schools will be opening next school year in August instead of September. The matter came up during the School Board’s monthly meeting, which was conducted online in an effort to keep members from risking potential contact with COVID-19. The plans were laid out last year for Westmoreland County’s public schools to have a shortened summer this year in exchange for an early start in August, and thus, an early end in May instead of June.

All of this, however, depended on one thing: whether the Governor would sign the waiver the School Board had sent that would allow schools to open prior to Labor Day. The details and implications of all of this were laid out for the board by the Assistant Superintendent, Cathy Rice.

“So with that, our new calendar has new teachers reporting the week of July twenty-seventh, and our returning teachers returning August third. The students come in on the week of August tenth,” she explained, before discussing the biggest potential obstacle.

“Of course, the Coronavirus will help determine whether or not we can meet face to face on those dates. We’ve been instructed to plan for the possibility of being able to open face-to-face in August and September,” she continued, “but also plan for the possibility of not being able to. So we’re currently trying to make sure that we’re equipping our households with hotspots over the summer.”

If the schools are unable to open, it seems likely that the current approach of virtual, digital, and packet learning will continue. These preparations include trying to get hotspots to students’ families as well, due to how vital internet access would be in the event of a worst-case scenario that prevents the schools from reopening.