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York Co. students to start 2020-21 school year remotely, per superintendent's recommendation

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Posted at 11:15 PM, Jul 23, 2020
and last updated 2020-07-30 20:01:32-04

YORK Co, Va. - As we continue to navigate the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, York County School Division Superintendent Dr. Victor Shandor has recommended that students begin the 2020-21 school year, which will start on September 8, by learning remotely.

The decision comes after months of conducting research, reviewing community health data, listening to stakeholders and consulting with local health department experts.

York County schools join Norfolk Public Schools and Virginia Beach City Public Schools in recommending their students begin the academic year by learning at home.

Shandor acknowledged that bringing together large populations of people in an indoor location increases the potential spread of the virus and the possibility of school closings. By starting the year with online learning, students and staff will be protected and it will also create a more stable learning environment for the start of the school year.

Shandor and members of the division's leadership team presented the 2020-21 School year Planning Report to the school board Thursday night. They have developed four different instructional models that can be implemented within what Shandor calls a "Flexible Framework."

Flexible Framework

  • Traditional Model: All students in school five days a week
  • Hybrid Model: All students alternate between being in school and learning at home
  • Leveled Model: Elementary students will alternate between being in school and learning at home, while secondary students will learn from home five days a week
  • Remote Model: All students learn from home

More information on each model have been posted to YCSD’s Return to School website.

Shandor says other factors such as staffing, transportation, and student enrollment may also prompt the need to move between models.

On July 30, the York County School Board amended the superintendent's recommendation to begin the school year virtually for the first nine weeks, to include planning for opportunities to prioritize bringing the most vulnerable and youngest students back earlier than that nine weeks mark. Click here to read a letter from School Board Chair Jimmy Richardson about this decision.

Anticipating that families will have different opinions on what they want and expect in the fall, the school division is providing two public comment sessions on Monday, July 27 at 6 p.m. and Tuesday, July 28 at 12 p.m. The school board will then hold a special meeting to take action regarding the 2020-21 school year on Thursday, July 30 at 5 p.m. The sessions and meeting will be streamed live on the division’s Facebook page and YCSD-TV.

One comment will be allowed per person, and it may be no more than three minutes long. All comments must begin with the speaker’s name and address. Since stakeholder participation will be virtual, all comments must be received before the sessions.

If you wish to leave a comment, you can do so in one of the following ways:

  • Video Comments: Upload recorded video via Dropbox prior to 8 a.m. Monday, July 27
    • If you are unable to comment via video, voicemail messages will be incorporated in the live Public Comment Sessions as time allows.
  • Voicemail: Call 757-833-7127 between 8 a.m. Friday, July 24 and 8 a.m. Monday, July 27

In addition to comments, stakeholders can share questions regarding planning for the 2020-21 school year online via an Office 365 Form. This form will remain available through July 30.

Shandor says parents and guardians will have a choice when it comes to their child’s education for the 2020-21 school year. If you do not want your child to participate in the Flexible Framework models (Option 1), you will be able to sign up for a Virtual Academy (Option 2) that will span grades pre-K through 12.

The school division will also provide a self-assessment tool and other resources before you notify your the division of your choice. School officials will also provide additional information on the division’s Return to School website and during the public comment sessions.

Instructions on how to let the division know the choice you have made regarding Options 1 and 2 will be sent to all families the evening of Monday, July 27. Every family submit their Parent Choice Commitment Form for each child by midnight on Sunday, August 2.

Click here for more information on the York County School Division's back-to-school plans.

Click here for full coronavirus coverage.