Greater Johnstown School District elementary students will complete their first full week of in-person learning Friday, Superintendent Amy Arcurio told the school board at Tuesday’s meeting.

Administrators decided to start those students full-time because they are the least susceptible to the novel coronavirus and most affected by being out of the classroom.

“We’re real happy to bring that to our youngest learners,” Arcurio said.

Since the beginning of the year, students across the district have participated in remote or hybrid instruction due to the COVID-19 pandemic, and face-to-face learning began to increase incrementally after the first of the year.

Elementary students started four days of in-person learning at the end of January, and middle and high school learners followed suit in the beginning of February.

At this time, Cambria County remains in the “moderate” designation of the Pennsylvania Department of Health’s community transmission table, with an incidence rate of 86 cases per 100,000 residents for the past seven days.

Because of that, Arcurio said, the middle and high schools will remain on the four-day schedule.

Another announcement the superintendent shared Tuesday was a new partnership between Greater Johnstown and the 1889 Jefferson Center for Population Health.

The district will be a pilot institution for the organization, beginning with the elementary.

The center is a “collaborative venture between 1889 Foundation and the Jefferson College of Population Health” that focuses on population health and disease prevention for Cambria and Somerset county residents, according to www.1889jeffersoncenter.org.

Arcurio said students and families will have the opportunity to receive assistance with health or social service needs through this program.

That could include anything from prenatal to oral health, substance abuse or mental health referrals, food security and “so much more.”

Donald Trotz, a guidance counselor at the school, will facilitate the program there.

The pilot initiative is set to move to the middle school at the start of the next school year and potentially advance to the high school after that, Arcurio said.

Joshua Byers is a reporter for The Tribune-Democrat. Follow him on Twitter @Journo_Josh.

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