Northern moves to remote classes, South Western to debate in-person return

Erin Bamer
York Dispatch
South Western High School in Penn Township, Tuesday, Nov. 20, 2018. Dawn J. Sagert photo

Northern York County School District made a sudden shift Tuesday to fully remote learning, while officials at South Western School District are expected to debate Wednesday night whether to return to in-person instruction.

Northern York County announced Tuesday on its website that schools would be operating fully remote starting Wednesday. District officials aim to return to in-person instruction Jan. 4, according to the announcement. 

The district's four elementary schools were holding in-person classes every day, while its middle school and high school were operating with a hybrid model, according to Superintendent Steven Kirkpatrick. The district now is moving to remote learning because it doesn't have enough staff for its schools following an outbreak of COVID-19. 

Officials did not report how many positive COVID-19 cases have been recorded in the district. 

"We certainly recognize the challenges this creates for our families, and we will support you as we work through these challenging times together," district officials said. 

South Western School District has scheduled a special board meeting Wednesday night to consider a recommendation to return to in-person instruction after winter break. 

That meeting will be held virtually starting at 6 p.m., according to an email from the district. 

The board voted in November to transition all six of its schools to fully remote learning as COVID-19 cases were rising throughout York County. As of Tuesday, the number of cases continued to rise in the county, with 17,811 total cases and at least 306 deaths since the beginning of the pandemic. 

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

More:York County COVID-19 death toll approaches 300

South Western has recorded 50 COVID-19 cases since August, with 16 of those recorded within the past 14 days, according to its COVID-19 dashboard. 

In November, Northern York County and South Western school districts signed an attestation form in accordance with an order from Gov. Tom Wolf. The districts agreed to comply with state safety regulations in order to stay open.

As part of the form, the districts will be required to temporarily close individual school buildings if enough people within a building report positive for COVID-19 within a 14-day period. All York County school districts signed the attestation form. 

More:All York County school districts signed Wolf's form to stay open