Almost all York County school districts move to stay open

Erin Bamer
York Dispatch
Central York High School in Springettsbury Township, Tuesday, Oct. 16, 2018. Dawn J. Sagert photo

At least 14 out of 16 York County school districts signed an attestation form agreeing to comply with state safety regulations in order to stay open. 

The deadline to sign the form was 5 p.m. Monday, in accordance with an order from Gov. Tom Wolf. Districts were required to sign the form agreeing to comply with two state safety regulations, or elect to operate fully remote until York County does not have substantial COVID-19 transmission levels. 

Officials in York City School District and Eastern York School District confirmed Tuesday they had signed the form, allowing for the continuation of in-person instruction. Dover Area School District and Central York School District posted their signed forms on their websites. 

They joined 10 other districts in York County in which officials had said they had signed it as of Monday afternoon. York City Superintendent Andrea Berry said she believes all York County school districts would sign the form in order to keep their schools open.

"The goal is not to be remote," Berry said. 

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. 

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.

York County had recorded 11,338 cases and 253 deaths as of Tuesday, according to the state Department of Health. Eight of those deaths were recorded Tuesday. 

More:Eight new COVID-19 related deaths in York County on Tuesday

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

Only two York County school districts, Red Lion Area School District and Northeastern School District, had not confirmed as of Tuesday morning whether they signed the form. Failure to sign meant the school districts would have to move to fully remote learning. 

Multiple attempts to reach officials from Red Lion and Northeastern school districts were unsuccessful. 

York City School District and South Western School District each signed the form, even though all of their schools currently operate fully remotely. Berry said Tuesday signing the form provided the district more flexibility, and allowed about 500 students in the district who have special needs or are English language learners to continue receiving in-person instruction. 

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

Several school district officials, including York Suburban Superintendent Timothy Williams and Dallastown Area School District board members, 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 Monday.