Thursday update: One new COVID-19 death reported in York County

Pa. Department of Education updates guidance to allow more in-person learning

Erin Bamer
York Dispatch
Family and Consumer Sciences teacher Mercedes Myers, left, talks to eighth-grader Kathy Huang as Myers serves during bus duty at the end of the school day at West York Area Middle School in West Manchester Township, Tuesday, Feb. 16, 2021. Dawn J. Sagert photo

State officials updated guidance for schools to allow more buildings to reopen for in-person instruction, but it won't make much difference to York County students. 

The Pennsylvania Department of Education changed guidelines for school closures last week, and they took effect Monday. Also on Monday, the department changed its recommendations for how schools should operate based on the level of COVID-19 transmission in their county, with those changes taking effect next week. 

The guidance recommends full in-person instruction for schools in counties with low or moderate transmission levels. With moderate transmission, state officials also support blended, or hybrid, learning models. As of last week, 22 counties in the state had low or moderate transmission, according to the department.

In counties with substantial transmission, the state recommends hybrid or fully remote learning. Previously, the state only recommended remote learning in areas with substantial transmission.

York County has been classified in substantial transmission every week since mid-November. However, all York County schools are already fully open with in-person instruction or are operating under a hybrid model, and they have been for a while. The final local district to transition out of remote learning was York City School District, which switched to hybrid learning in February. 

More:York City School District to begin reopening buildings

The new guidance for school closures states that schools in counties with substantial transmission should close for two to three days when a moderate number of COVID-19 cases are reported within 14 days, and they should close for five days when a high number of cases are reported, depending on the size of the school. The previous guidance said schools should close for at least three days after recording a moderate number of cases and should close at least 14 days for a high number of cases. 

In November, all York County school districts signed an attestation form, agreeing to comply with state guidance on school closures while the county had substantial transmission in order to keep their schools open. In the last few weeks, dozens of local schools temporarily closed under this guidance. 

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

More:York City School District closes all school buildings for the week