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York City School District records several COVID-19 cases ahead of reopening

Erin Bamer
York Dispatch
William Penn High School

As York City School District prepares to reopen school buildings Monday under a hybrid plan, the district is recording new COVID-19 cases almost every day. 

Since Jan. 25, when the district started reporting cases on an online dashboard, the district has recorded 10 COVID-19 cases across its 11 buildings. Only four buildings have not recorded any cases since Jan. 25. 

There are few people occupying district buildings ahead of the reopening. Superintendent Andrea Berry previously told The York Dispatch that staff, as well as some special needs and non-English speaking students are in the classrooms. 

On Jan. 25, district officials closed William Penn Senior High School to all students and staff until Feb. 1 after recording one COVID-19 case. Since then, the high school recorded one additional case, but no other district buildings have closed, according to the district website. 

More:Central York High School, William Penn close temporarily due to COVID-19 cases

The district's administration building has also recorded two COVID-19 cases since Jan. 25, as has Hannah Penn K-8. Devers K-8, Ferguson K-8, Jackson K-8 and McKinley K-8 have each recorded one case, according to the dashboard. 

The circumstances of these cases are unknown. York City School District officials did not respond Thursday to requests for comment. 

The district's upcoming hybrid model will see most students return to the classroom two days a week. Students will be divided into two groups, with one group attending class Monday and Tuesday, and the other group attending class Wednesday and Thursday. The remaining three days will be for independent remote assignments. 

District officials proposed the hybrid model at a school board meeting Jan. 20 in response to state officials recommending districts reopen elementary schools to all students. The hybrid plan received strong criticism from parents and board members at the meeting. Despite that, the board approved the plan in a 5-2 vote. 

Many district parents continue to criticize the plan, arguing that it reduces student-teacher interaction and puts students and staff at risk of transmitting COVID-19. A change.org petition to keep the district in its virtual model had gathered 221 signatures as of Thursday afternoon, and a group of 14 parents and students protested the hybrid plan outside the district's administration office on Jan. 29. 

More:Parents, students protest York City School District's hybrid plan

More:York City School District to begin reopening buildings

The frequent COVID-19 cases in district buildings is a common concern parents expressed at the protest and in a Facebook group for parents against the district's hybrid model. 

"It’s crazy to even talk about opening public schools back up before there’s even access to a vaccine," parent Robyn Allen said at the protest.