EAST ROCKHILL — For the first time this school year, many of Pennridge High School's students will be having in-person classes five days a week. 

The change starts Feb. 22, the district said in emails sent Feb. 3 to families with high school students. 

Up until now, the high school students had the choice of a hybrid schedule with two days in class and three days at home learning remotely or a full-remote schedule. The full-time remote option remains with the change, but the hybrid is being dropped. 

"We have always believed that full-time instruction with our great teachers is what's best for kids," Superintendent David Bolton said.

"Whenever we felt as though we could do that safely within our health and safety protocols, it was time to do that," he said.

COVID-19 rates in the county and state have begun to decrease, he said.

"We have continued to see no indication of inter-school spread of cases," Bolton said. "Our health and safety protocols have been effective."

With 1,500 students at the school, it isn't possible to meet the social distancing requirements for the high school students to have lunch at school when the five-day in-person classes begin, he said.

Students will instead be able to get free grab and go lunches at their 1 p.m. dismissal time, he said. Free meals are available for all students through federal funding during the pandemic. While the high school students will not be able to eat lunch in the cafeteria, elementary and middle school students continue to have meals available in the cafeteria at their schools, Bolton said. 

The high school student days will continue to begin at 7:15 a.m. and will have seven 45-minute periods, ending at 1 p.m., the email said.

New office hours for teachers are being added from 1:30 to 2:30 p.m.

"This is where both remote and face-to-face students can have access if they need extra help or they're struggling or the teacher needs to meet with them about a missed assignment," Bolton said.

Students currently in the full remote model will be scheduled to remain in it. Students in the hybrid model will be scheduled for five days a week of in-person classes. The families were also given the option of changing the selection by Monday, Feb. 8.

As of the afternoon of Friday, Feb. 5, replies to the survey were for just over 100 changes of student selections, Bolton said. 

"Approximately 70 percent of them are going from remote to full in-person," he said. About 30 percent were going from hybrid to full remote, he said. 

The change to having full in-person classes will also mean a change in bus schedules or parking assignments for a lot of the high school students, the district email said. The students will receive information on those changes the week of Feb. 15, the district said.

Information is available in a Frequently Asked Questions document that was attached to the email to the families and is available on the district website. The students and parents can also contact building principals for more information, Bolton said.

The schedules for elementary and middle school students remain unchanged. 

The two options for middle school students are full remote or full in-school, which is the same as the high school will now have. The three options for elementary students are full remote, full in-school or hybrid. 

"We will only have a small percentage of elementary students that will be hybrid after Feb. 22," Bolton said. "Nobody at the secondary level will be hybrid." 

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