Cheltenham High School students to remain learning remotely due to 'staffing constraints'

WYNCOTE, Pennsylvania (WPVI) -- Students and staff at Cheltenham High School will pivot to remote learning on Tuesday as the district tries to deal with staffing constraints.

In a letter to parents and staff, Superintendent of Schools Dr. Wagner Marseille alerted the school community that effective Tuesday, February 16, the high school would temporarily pivot back to all remote learning for at least a few weeks.

The exception for in-person learning will be limited to students with special needs.

The delay is meant to help school officials adjust to current "staffing constraints," as noted in the letter.

On Monday, Dr. Renato Lajara, the principal of the school, clarified that the issues included more than just teachers, but also support staff, custodians and school administrators.

"It became difficult with the staffing to create not only a safe environment but a good instructional environment for our students," Lajara said.

He also added that after a trying first-run of their hybrid model last week, it became clear they needed more time.

"What we didn't want was to just bring kids back just to bring them back," he said.

Some parents of students, like Dr. Phaedra Brown, agreed it was a tough but necessary call.

"I do understand parents have to go to work. I do understand how arduous it is for some students and parents to go through this time, but the bottom line is for us all to be safe," Brown said.

Brown, a school administrator at another school, said she's seen first hand what COVID-19 can do in a classroom.

"I had five teachers and five students test positive and it was the worst time of my life. I don't want that to ever happen again," Brown said.

For some students, the delay in a return to some sense of normalcy is troublesome for many reasons.

"I have not been getting extra counseling at the school as I should have been," said junior Jaiden Davis.

Davis said there is also the fear of falling behind and the long-term unintended repercussions of remote learning.

"Yeah, it's very worrisome, as a junior worrying about like college exams and all that," Davis said

School officials said they plan to revisit a hybrid model in two to three weeks. In that time, school officials hope most teachers will also be fully vaccinated.
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