Northeastern High School will start year off virtually as construction continues

Meredith Willse
York Dispatch

As the Northeastern High School renovation wraps up, the school administration is preparing for students to do online schooling for the first seven days of school. 

Superintendent Stacey Sidle said Monday night during the Northeastern School Board meeting the construction is projected to wrap up after Labor Day. She added the district has been waiting to hear back from the Pennsylvania Department of Education on what they are allowed to do while the work is being finished, such as virtual classes. 

“I know there’s been a lot of questions in the community,” Sidle said. “Rumors are rampant about when the high school’s going to open — I’ve heard as late as October or January.”

She added that isn’t true. Right now, it is looking to be a seven-day delay to start at the high school. The other schools will not be affected. School will begin Thursday, Aug. 25, for all Northeastern students.

The construction has hit numerous delays due to supply chain issues and staff catching COVID-19. As of Monday night's meeting, construction officials said the base bid with approved change orders is at $29 million, about $6 million below the board-approved budget. 

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Work in progress: Assistant Principal Kimberly Bell, who presented the plan with high school teacher Ryan Middleton, said the plan is still a work in progress depending on feedback from the community and staff.

The stadium locker room will mostly be completed, excluding the lockers. Those lockers and some hallway lockers were ordered about a year ago, but their delivery has been delayed. 

The pool will be useable. Staff will use the original cafeteria while work continues on the new kitchen and cafeteria, which is expected to be finished around October. Officials expect work on classrooms in one of the hallways to wrap up at the end of October. 

“We do plan for instruction to begin for students on Aug. 25,” Bell said.

The plan is to have students participate in online schooling. Bell said most of the students are familiar with Schoology, the platform they will use. 

Orientation day is Tuesday, Aug. 23, and is open to students and parents both so they can learn how to use Schoology if they don’t know it yet. 

New microphones sit on the Northeastern School Board members' tables Monday night. The board experimented with the new microphones during the meeting, learning tricks such as locking the microphone on rather than holding the button down. Meredith Willse photo

Students without reliable internet will be allowed to come into the school to use the resources for online instruction in a monitored setting. Other students, such as autistic students, will be allowed to be in the building for classes. 

The technology department will be in the high school's lobby, so staff will be accessible if there is a problem with a student’s laptop. 

Friday, Sept. 2, will be an asynchronous day so teachers can go in and prep their classrooms. 

Bell said students are expected to turn on laptop cameras when teachers ask, such as confirming attendance. If students aren’t attending or are late, the administration will use normal interventions. 

Bell said the online classes will run at a special schedule. For example, there will be one lunch for all grades.

Flexible: Board member Tyler Kramlick thanked the administration team for being flexible with the plan. 

“Also, to make the public aware, this has been something we’ve been trying to establish since before the end of the school year,” he said, adding the district can now set the rumors straight. 

He explained the construction is still moving forward without having lockers and whiteboards installed yet. 

Board member B.J. Volkert commented that online schooling is “one good thing” that came out of the pandemic. Before the pandemic, the school year would have been modified to extend into the summer. 

“No one wants to miss the first seven days of school, but if I were a kid, I would much rather go online for my first seven days and not miss a lot more of my summer break,” he said, adding this is more like a speed bump rather than a roadblock.

Bell said the athletic schedule will remain the same because none of those areas are affected by the construction. 

Students and families will be notified of online schooling soon through an email blast and welcome letter. 

Other news: In other news, during the meeting, it was announced the board received new microphones, which they are currently learning how to use.

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Sidle also noted an update to the district’s health and safety plan, which has to be reviewed every six months. The only change this time was to open up drinking fountains again. Sidle said water bottle fillers have been added into buildings, and students are asked to bring their water bottles to fill at the fountains. 

The next meeting is 7 p.m. Monday, Aug. 15. It can be watched in person at 41 Harding St., Manchester, or on the school's YouTube channel.

— Reach Meredith Willse at or on Twitter at @MeredithWillse.

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