ST. MARYS — Around 130 parents and visitors attended Monday evening’s St. Marys Area School Board meeting via Zoom in anticipation of the district’s decision about the upcoming school year in midst of COVID-19.

Local nurse Melissa Gabler, who has children in fourth and fifth grades in SMASD, said she reached out to Superintendent Brian Toth with questions from local parents and families, which he answered Sunday night.

Gabler said as a nurse, she understands the difficulty SMASD is having navigating this pandemic and guidelines put in place for schools. As a mother of young children, though, she said virtual learning would cause students to miss several important aspects of schooling, including interaction with other children.

“Virtual learning would be very difficult, and would take away from my children’s education,” she said.

The outpouring of responses Gabler received on her Facebook post reassured her just how much the SMASD family depends on one other, she noted.

“We want to make sure our kids get the best education they can,” she said.

Mark Greenthaner addressed the recent guidance released from the Wolf Administration concerning the reopening of schools, noting that Elk County’s cases are lower than others that are fully reopening their school districts five days per week.

Greenthaner said he believes his children should be able to return to school five days per week in a low transmission county.

Julie Bish, president of the Teacher’s Association, said she would be present throughout the meeting via Zoom to help answer any questions.

“We have worked with district administration to make sure the reopening plan is safe for students and staff,” she noted.

The board also gave seven random visitors the chance to speak during public comments, to which no one volunteered, and the meeting proceeded.

Recommended for you