More grades could return to schools in November under a plan presented Monday evening to the York County School Board.
Last week, preschoolers, kindergartners and first graders returned as part of a two-day-a-week hybrid model. District leaders released a plan in September to bring back students up through third grade by Oct. 19. Some students with disabilities — and English language learners — also returned in September.
Superintendent Victor Shandor told the school board they’re on target to meet that goal and tentatively hope to have all elementary grades back on Nov. 5. Sixth and ninth graders could return Nov. 9, assuming conditions allow.
“This is a draft — it is target dates," Shandor said. None of this is in stone.”
Administrators described the return of pre-K through first grade on Oct. 5 as a success that will hopefully translate to older grades.
“I would consider it definitely a success with how well prepared we were, the student’s enthusiasm, the engagement that our teachers had with our students,” said director of elementary instruction David Reitz. “I think that we just did a great job.”
The county’s public health metrics are comparable to most surrounding districts which have started slowly bringing back students. Newport News outlined plans last week to bring back some students starting next week.
Williamsburg-James City County schools plans to bring back up to third grade starting Oct. 26. In Poquoson, fourth and fifth grades returned Monday.
Under Centers for Disease Control and Prevention school reopening guidelines, the county is classified at “lowest risk” for transmission in schools when it comes to the percentage of tests coming back positive. It’s still in the “higher risk” category for the other key metric, the number of cases per 100,000 population, according to Virginia Department of Health data from Monday.
Shandor said he’s hoping to see those numbers at least in the moderate category before all students return. The county reached that point briefly last week before the 14-day average number of cases per capita went up.
The target dates outlined Tuesday could still change depending on health conditions and the district’s operating capacity. Return dates for other secondary students are to be decided. The district wants sixth and ninth graders to return before other middle and high school students to help them adjust to their new schools.
“I really think it is a good opportunity for us to bring in our first round of middle schoolers and our first round of high schoolers, at least for a period of time,” Shandor said.
Matt Jones, 757-247-4729, firstname.lastname@example.org
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