Sports? Music? Buses? IEPs? What Can My School Offer This Year?


By Wendi Rank

Few things are as devastating to behold as a 14-year-old with crushed dreams. Our school is virtual, which means the marching band won’t be marching. If you’d like to send some brownies or Starbucks my way, I’ll appreciate the emotional support.

Many kids – and parents – are wondering what extracurricular activities will look like. Those of us with bus-riders know bus stop antics never occur six feet apart. And children requiring extra support are of special concern.

Answers are limited, but here’s a brief discussion on what to expect.


Penn Live Patriot News reported last week on PIAA’s decision to postpone the start of school sports until August 24. Pennsylvania’s Departments of Health and Education joint statement suggests postponing sports until January 1, 2021. Schools are permitted to allow voluntary workouts.

Prior to the PIAA decision, the Department of Education asked all adults and benched players to wear masks and socially distance during practice and games, as reported by Masks were not required of students actively playing.

I think those parents might need a bit more support than I do. How many athletes do you know like being sidelined? Gang, I’m sending you some chocolate. You’ll need it, especially if August 24 brings more postponements.


The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention see instruments and singing as especially problematic. According to another Penn Live Patriot News report, singing and wind and brass instruments excel at distributing viral droplets.

Bands are looking at rehearsing in small groups or virtually. Expect suspension of indoor performances and musicians placed six feet apart.

I told my budding musician teen angst can enhance performance. You can imagine the disdainful response.

Other Extracurricular Activities

Sharing is tops on the list of things the CDC wants us to avoid, so clubs should refrain from using community supplies. Masks should be worn, and social distancing should be maintained.


The Associated Press reports schools are still evaluating shields for drivers and handling of children who get sick en route to the bus stop or school.

Pennsylvania’s Department of Education recommends adding buses or having buses make more trips. Families should sit together. Buses should be filled from back to front, and windows opened for ventilation.

Let me guess. You’re ready for some brownies and caffeine, too, am I right?

Special Needs

As a healthcare provider, I’m most concerned for the kids receiving learning support, rehabilitative therapies, behavioral guidance, and other school-based assistance.

Pennsylvania requires regular, free instruction for special needs students, says If the school can’t provide in-person instruction safely, the state has directed schools to meet with families to discuss alternative instruction.

All Students

Pennsylvania schools are obligated to provide “planned instruction” rather than reviewing previously learned material, reports Our supply list – whether you’re virtual or in-person – is useful for back-to-school shopping. Find it here.

You might want to add coffee to that list. I think we’re going to need a lot of it.



Wendi Rank is a Montgomery County native with a graduate degree from LaSalle University. She has worked as a school nurse, a registered nurse and nurse practitioner in Pennsylvania and New Jersey. She has previously written for the journal Nursing.



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