At least 10 York County districts plan to stay open with extra regulations

Erin Bamer
York Dispatch
Guests arrive and scan the stands for seats marked with blue tape for seating prior to the Red Land High School Commencement 2020 at West Shore Stadium in Camp Hill, Friday, July 10, 2020. There would be 271 graduates receiving diplomas during two outdoor ceremonies splitting the class alphabetically to allow for social distancing. Dawn J. Sagert photo

At least 10 York County school districts have signed  forms agreeing to comply with state safety regulations in order to keep their schools open, officials said. 

School districts in counties with substantial COVID-19 spread face a 5 p.m. Monday deadline to either sign an attestation form or agree to transition to fully remote learning, in accordance with an order announced Nov. 23 by Gov. Tom Wolf. Failure to sign the form means the district must go fully remote. 

The safety regulations  in the form include complying with a mask requirement for all students, staff and visitors, as well as complying with recommendations to temporarily close schools for cleaning based on the number of positive COVID-19 cases identified over a 14-day period. 

West Shore Superintendent Todd Stoltz had announced the district signed the attestation form Nov. 24 through a community update on the district's website. 

"It will take all of us working collaboratively to ensure we comply with the orders and more importantly to ensure our schools remain open," Stoltz said.

Hanover Superintendent John Scola announced that district's decision in a letter to parents and staff sent  Nov. 24. West York Superintendent Todd Davies confirmed  over email Friday that his district had also signed the form. 

South Eastern Superintendent Nathan Van Deusen said he signed the form soon after it was available. 

The Northern York County school board voted unanimously Nov. 24 to sign the attestation form agreeing to the state's regulations, according to Superintendent Steven Kirkpatrick.

South Western School District signed the form Monday, according to Superintendent Duane Bull's office. The school board decided Wednesday to have its schools operate fully remotely through the end of 2020, but Bull said officials wanted to keep schools open for special needs students who rely on in-person instruction. 

More:South Western School District goes fully remote through end of the year

Southern York County School District signed the form Nov. 24, while York Suburban School District signed Wednesday.

A Spring Grove Area School District official confirmed that the district signed the attestation form Monday. 

The Dallastown school board voted 7-1 Monday at a special meeting to sign the form. The sole dissenting vote, Scott Wingard, said he believes cases will rise following Thanksgiving break, and closing schools might be the safer option. 

"There is a massive storm on our horizon," Wingard said. 

More:Central York High School, middle school closed for another week

York County is among 66 of Pennsylvania's 67 counties with substantial COVID-19 transmission. There were more than 41,000 new cases of COVID-19 statewide between Nov. 20 and Thursday, and the positivity rate rose to 11.7%, up from 11.1% the week prior, officials said. 

The county recorded 11,262 cases as of Monday, including 245 deaths. Four of those deaths occurred on Sunday alone, according to the Pennsylvania Department of Health. There were 396 new cases in York County over a two-day span: 195  on Sunday and  201  on Monday, according to the Health Department. 

More:Four new COVID-19 related deaths in York County on Sunday, health department reports

More:Schools to decide between remote learning or complying with state regulations

Several school district officials, including York Suburban Superintendent Timothy Williams and Dallastown board members, have criticized Wolf's order, arguing that it takes control away from the districts. 

"We are at the mercy of some of these numbers," Dallastown Superintendent Josh Doll said. 

York City, Northeastern, Eastern York, Central York, Dover and Red Lion school districts have not confirmed publicly whether they  signed the attestation form. 

Last week, Central York School District announced that its high school and middle school will remain closed through Tuesday, Dec. 8, because of the number of positive coronavirus cases linked to the buildings. Those schools have been closed since Nov. 20. The district's elementary schools remain open.