YCSDigest - February 16, 2021

Posted On: 2/16/2021


Return to School Update

Throughout this school year, division staff have monitored established school reopening metrics to determine opportunities to expand our Hybrid Learning Model for all students enrolled in the Flexible Framework. Throughout December and January, high rates of community transmission coupled with COVID-19 isolation and quarantine protocols led to critical staffing levels and forced the division to pause in setting dates for new grade levels.

Community transmission rates - while still in the highest category - have declined significantly over the last two weeks. In that same time, we have also seen improvement in staffing levels. In addition to monitoring those metrics, division and school administrators continued to prepare and plan for the safe return of students in grades 7-11.

This morning, Dr. Shandor participated in a meeting with Virginia Superintendent of Instruction Dr. James Lane and superintendents from across the state to review updated guidance issued by the CDC Friday afternoon. Much of this guidance aligns with the approach YCSD has adopted throughout this school year, placing greater reliance on effective mitigation strategies. Our staff and students have clearly demonstrated that adhering to the protocols we have in place makes our schools safe in the midst of this pandemic. As such, we have confidence in resuming our plan to bring all grade levels into the Hybrid Model.

Hybrid Model Timeline – Grades 7-11

Beginning Monday, February 22, 11th grade students will return to school in the Hybrid Model. These students will be followed by grades 7 and 9 on Monday, March 1, and grades 8 and 10 on Monday, March 8. As with other grade levels, students will be scheduled to attend school in-person 2 days per week as part of either Cohort 1 (last names A-K) or Cohort 2 (last names L-Z).

Each school will provide information for your child’s grade level. You can learn more about safety protocols in place for students as they return to buildings on the division’s Return to School website. It is important we all continue follow the proper use of face coverings, physical distancing, hand hygiene, cleaning & disinfecting, and contact tracing. It is also important that students and staff continue to conduct Daily Health Screenings before coming to school or work.

Staff Vaccination Update

Some YCSD employees who chose to receive a COVID-19 vaccine have begun receiving the second dose, while the vast majority of staff are eligible for their second dose next week (February 22-26) – though it is possible second doses may be spread out over a longer period depending on dose availability.

We are collaborating with the Health Department and local agencies to minimize the impact of vaccination clinics on school schedules; however, we do not yet know when appointments will be scheduled. Additionally, there is evidence the potential side effects are more predominant after the second dose of the vaccine.

If vaccination appointments or resulting side effects impact staffing levels, individual schools and/or the division may need to temporarily shift learning models and/or daily schedules. While we hope to provide notice for planning purposes, we encourage families to have backup plans in place in the event of changes in school schedules.

Quarantine Guidance

Beginning today, the division adopted revised standards for staff and students identified as close contacts of someone who has tested positive for COVID-19. Rather than a 14-day quarantine, close contacts will be able to complete the quarantine protocols in 10 days provided they remain symptom free. While the CDC issued guidance allowing this reduced quarantine period in December, the division chose to wait to implement these standards until transmission rates declined.

Calendar Reminder

With schools closed for the Presidents’ Day holiday yesterday, there is no Wednesday Student Support and Independent Learning Day this week. Cohort 1 should attend school tomorrow, with Cohort 2 in school Thursday and Friday.

FY22 Operating Budget

Dr. Shandor has released the Superintendent’s Proposed FY22 Operating Budget. The proposed $155.6 million spending plan was developed with a focus on key objectives to support Instruction & Learning, Retention & Recruitment, and Safety & Compliance. You can learn more about the budget proposal and see the presentation to the School Board at the February Work Session on the division website.

The School Board will hold a public hearing on the Superintendent’s Proposed Budget during the monthly meeting, beginning at 7 p.m., Monday, February 22. The meeting will take place at York Hall and is open to the public, though seating remains limited to ensure physical distancing.