By Kimberly Davis

NORRISTOWN, Pa. (CBS) — Schools have been the center of debate during the pandemic. Montgomery County’s all-virtual mandate ended Monday, with county officials leaving it up to each individual district about where to go from here.

Spring-Ford School District officials say they believe in-person learning is the best option for their students and are allowing them to return to the classroom Tuesday.

Eyewitness News was at the Royersford Elementary School Tuesday morning where many parents are upset because the school gave a late notice of reopening. Their students are returning to in-person learning this morning, but it was a decision that took parents by surprise.

Just for Monday, the superintendent made the decision to go virtual, which had many parents concerned.

“Who decided to make you king, to overrule the entire board and say people stop having kids go to school today? Twenty-four hours notice, now 13 hours notice for tomorrow,” one angry parent said.

In a school board meeting Monday, Superintendent Dr. David Goodin defended his decision.

“The reason I did what I did today, I know a lot of people are upset by that. I know there were a lot of people who thought we were changing course, and suddenly the board was going to move virtual. That’s not been a conversation at the board table,” Goodin said.

The decision to return to in-person learning was a reopening plan approved back in October and the board has decided to move forward with that plan at the eleventh hour.

During the meeting, Dr. Goodin recognized people were upset but says grades five through six virtual classrooms are full, hitting around the 30 student mark and it’s not a matter of refusing to add another section, they don’t have the staffing to do so.

The goal is to reduce the number of students in each class which will lead to a better learning environment.

“It’s 8 o’clock and now we’re going to tell parents that they’ve got to prepare to bring their kids to school tomorrow, which impacts their work life. I think maybe we could have done this in a different format,” said Clinton Jackson with the Spring-Ford Board of School Directors.

That comment was met with applause since the approval of in-person learning came later than expected, but students now have the green light to enter the school buildings.

But there is the possibility of functioning closures.

“The caveat now we’ll be possibly looking at some rolling moves to virtual learning once your building hits a certain number of positive cases in that 14-day period,” Goodin said.

As the district moves forward with in-person learning starting Tuesday, there seems to be uncertainty.

“We are going to have periodic moves, at the building level, to virtual learning. It’s not a matter of if it’s going to happen, it’s when it will happen because we’ve been tracking numbers,” Goodin said.

The superintendent says the district is committed to continuing in-person learning and although he’s concerned for the community, he believes its the best for students.

Parents still have the option to keep their children home to continue virtual learning. Other districts in the county have decided to remain virtual.

CBS3’s Kimberly Davis and Alecia Reid contributed to this report.


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Kimberly Davis