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West York extends Trimmer closure as school board debates full reopening

Todd Davies was approved unanimously by the West York school board in a special meeting Monday night.

West York Area school officials said Tuesday that Trimmer Elementary School would remain closed for an additional week amid more confirmed cases of COVID-19 among students, staff and teachers.

School officials first announced a two-week closure over Labor Day weekend, when two cases emerged and more test results were pending.

Now, Trimmer will be closed through at least Sept. 25.

"It's really just alarming," said Superintendent Todd Davies on Tuesday, noting that he doesn't know if the cases were caused by spread within the building or outside of it.

The extended closure came as West York's school board attempted Tuesday to craft a plan that would return students to traditional, in-person classes five days a week at all of the district's schools. 

West York has operated under a hybrid model since reopening last month.

More:COVID-19 shutters West York school as several more York County districts reopen

Board member Todd Gettys proposed a "five to thrive" plan, which would fully reopen schools to full-time instruction the second week in November, as recommended by Davies, provided it is  safe to do so at the time.

While all school board members agreed that traditional, in-person education is the best option, there was substantially less consensus about the timing. 

Board members Courtney Dennis and Douglas Hoover said the situation at Trimmer was a reason to doubt the efficacy of Gettys' proposal. 

West York Area officials and board members discuss proposals to update the middle and high school course curriculum at a Tuesday, Feb. 11 board meeting. The high school course selection comes with a change from a 4-block schedule to a 5-block schedule for the 2020-21 school year. Pictured, L to R: Business Manager Sheri Schlemmer, board members Douglas Hoover, Courtney Dennis and Todd Gettys.

Fully reopening West York's largest school, the high school, which would see some class sizes jump from 10 to 30, was an unreasonable expectation, Hoover said.

"To arbitrarily say to go back to a five-day schedule when things are trending negatively away from that to me doesn’t make any sense," said board member Donald Carl.

Hoover suggested reassessing the situation in the coming months. 

More:COVID-19 case prompts 2-week shutdown in York City's Jackson K-8

Gettys' motion failed in a 4-4 vote. Hoover, Carl, Dennis and board President Suzanne Smith opposed it. Gettys, Jeanne Herman, Brandy Shope and Lynn Kohler were in support. George Margetas was absent.

"This is about goal setting. This is about where we’re going," Kohler said, noting that Davies will be able to plan with November in mind, despite the vote. 

Davies plans to present a plan in October for a five-day transition.