BERWYN — Canesto High School returned to personal learning on Tuesday after briefly switching to virtual learning following threats posed by some parents over a disguise policy.
Last weekend, student interactions on social media escalated into harmful speech and potential threats to the school, the district said. Threats on social media have forced officials at Tredifrin-Easttown School District to move to virtual learning with great caution. Local police were alerted and no threats were found after the school was cleaned up.
“We have followed our established threat assessment procedures, and at this point we have eliminated any potential threats and will apply the Code of Conduct if necessary,” said Dr. Richard Gizick, head of schools. “We continue to investigate other cases reported to school officials.”
The school opened Tuesday with a two-hour delay to give staff time to prepare additional support for students when they return to school. The police presence was intensified at the school on Tuesday.
Gisik said school officials will appeal to all students during the classroom to consider expectations and assure that support is available. Counselors were on hand to support students who were worried.
“Harmful speech, including racist or homophobic, has no place in Canestaz or anywhere in the TESD, and it will not be tolerated,” Gisik said in a statement.
On Friday, about 50 students staged a protest against the school’s policy of wearing masks. All students must wear masks at school.
Representatives of the school ask students to refrain from further organized meetings during the school and stay in class.
“The school now needs a period of calm and de-escalation,” Gisik said. “We recognize the right of students to express their views and are ready as an administration to work with student leaders to direct these statements in a way that does not challenge our ability to conduct full-time school.”
On Tuesday, school officials held audition sessions for students to share their views on the ongoing mask debate with administrators and school board members.
Conestoga plans to reopen passive camera access for students who are uncomfortable attending school in person. Students who are not physically present at the school will still be marked as absent; however, absenteeism for this purpose will be justified. Passive access to the camera will be available until the end of February.
“The district’s requirement for indoor masks remains in force until the council reconsiders the health and safety plan later this month,” Gisik said. “We understand that in Tridifrin-Easttown and many districts opinions on this topic are divided. As in most school districts in this area, our board is actively considering this issue this month. Students will not be able to attend school in person without a mask. “
School officials are urging parents and guardians to help, stressing the importance of following school rules for personal learning, and preventing students from participating in provocative messages on social media.