The purpose of the American Rescue Plan (ARP) Act Elementary and Secondary School Emergency Relief (ESSER) III Fund is to help safely reopen and sustain the safe operation of schools and address the impacts of COVID-19 on the nation’s students by addressing students’ academic, social, emotional, and mental health needs. This plan describes how the York County School Division (YCSD) will maintain the health and safety of students, educators, and other school and division staff during and following the return to full in-person instruction. Questions about this plan should be directed to Dr. Vika Stephenson, Grant Coordinator/Writer at 757-898-0300.
On July 23, 2020, the YCSD School Board approved the 2020-21 Return to School Plan, which was periodically revised throughout the school year and updated with the Virginia Department of Education (VDOE) as changes warranted or when specific grade levels of students returned to in-person instruction. The plan outlined modifications to normal practice for all division services including, but not limited to, reopening metrics, instructional options, school schedules, new instruction, identification of instructional gaps and student needs, social emotional learning (SEL) and supports, technology, COVID-19 response plans, school operations including health and safety measures taken, transportation, athletics and extracurricular activities, family engagement, and communications.
The York County School Division committed to the safe return to full in-person instruction during the 2021-22 school year and continued to implement necessary measures to maintain the health and safety of all students and staff. The following sections outline the divisions 2022-23 plan for continuing safe return to in-person instruction and continuity of services.
On February 24, 2022, the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) redefined categories for community transmission. York County was placed in the Low category and transmission continues to dissipate. Furthermore, the VDH has also revised guidance for K-12 schools. Both agencies are shifting responsibility away from schools towards individuals and families. Given the shift to personal responsibility, YCSD issued the following guidance to its schools and families in late August, 2022:
Student and staff masking is optional.
All physical distancing requirements have been removed.
Students and staff are encouraged to regularly wash hands with soap and water for at least 20 seconds. When handwashing is not available, students and staff will have access to hand sanitizer containing at least 60% alcohol, covering hands and rubbing together until dry.
Disinfection of high contact surfaces in common areas and bathrooms has been discontinued.
All YCSD ventilation systems have been designed and constructed in accordance with the industry standard ASHRAE 62.1 Ventilation for Acceptable Indoor Air Quality and the International Mechanical Code, Chapter 4, Ventilation, which has been adopted by the Virginia Uniform Building Code. While the Standard and the Code have changed over time, the result of the procedure for determining the amount of ventilation air required has remained nearly constant at approximately 15 cubic feet per minute (CFM) per person. Ventilation air is introduced into buildings via the HVAC systems to dilute the indoor air of contaminants.
At Bethel Manor Elementary, Tabb Elementary, Yorktown Elementary, Waller Mill Elementary and the Grafton Complex, the ventilation systems were designed and constructed in accordance with the Standards and Codes identified above. In addition, bipolar ionization technology was designed and installed into these HVAC systems and was shown to reduce the level of contaminants in the indoor air and allow for a reduction in ventilation air. The bipolar ionization device produces positive and negative ions which attack contaminants in the air stream and kills them. Contaminants killed include viruses, mold spores and bacteria and bipolar ionization has also been shown to effectively neutralize SARS-CoV-2 under certain test conditions. The use of bipolar ionization allowed for a reduction of ventilation air to between 5 to 7.5 CFM/person.
Contact tracing responsibilities for positive COVID-19 cases involving students and staff members have been shifted from division staff to the Peninsula Health District. Students and staff should still report a positive diagnosis of COVID-19 to their schools and follow isolation guidelines.
Quarantine is no longer routinely recommended for asymptomatic individuals after exposure to COVID-19 infected individuals.
Symptomatic persons (regardless of vaccination status) should begin isolation at home and undergo testing as recommended by their healthcare provider(s). The day symptoms began should be counted as day 0.
Persons who test positive (regardless of vaccination status) should isolate themselves at home for at least 5 days. If they are asymptomatic or symptoms are resolving and they have been fever-free for 24 hours, they may return to programming after Day 5, provided:
Made available through State funding, YCSD has a ready supply of COVID-19 home testing kits available through school nurses for staff and students.
YCSD has promoted and facilitated initial vaccination shots for employees. Once vaccinations were made available to children 12 and over, the division organized two vaccination dates to assist parents in quick of distribution to those families desiring the vaccination. The division also made facilities available for local organizations conducting their own shot clinics at no cost to the organizing pharmacies, labs and non-profit organizations.
The division COVID-19 dashboard was discontinued in early April 2022.
YCSD has an open line of communication with the Peninsula Health Department in case of need to coordinate efforts in case of outbreak, but regular meetings have ceased.
The York County School Division will provide appropriate accommodations to support children with disabilities in respect to state and division health and safety policies.
YCSD will continue to take the necessary actions to ensure continuity of services, including but not limited to services to address students’ academic needs and students' and staff social, emotional, mental health, and other needs. Additionally, the division will continue to provide supports to address the needs of students with individualized learning plans throughout the school year. Specifics of the academic plan for the 2022-23 school year are outlined below.
The division plans to ensure all students have access to a full-time educational program with five days a week of in-person instruction. Families were provided an opportunity to register with Virtual Virginia if they desired full-time virtual instruction.
The shift to emergency remote learning due to COVID-19 school closures identified significant gaps in equitable access to technology among students. Therefore, the County School Board and the York County Board of Supervisors approved funding to launch a 1:1 Technology Program for all students in grades K-12. The division identified new programs and improved existing education technology programs for the 2020-21 school year to enhance student learning and provide more efficient and effective school-home communication regarding student learning. For the 2022-23 school year, these devices will serve as a classroom enhancement supported by the following tools. A short description are included below:
YCSD will use approximately $2,452,843 of its ARP Act ESSER III funds to address unfinished learning as described below.
In partnering with our family and community supports, YCSD engages in creating a positive, connected, inclusive, and safe environment to embrace ALL learners through the development of a social emotional learning framework.
Acknowledging diversity is foundational in building capacity for our social and emotional awareness while sustaining an intentional focus on equitable access and academic success. YCSD schools have allocated ESSER III funds to provide mental health and social & emotional learning supports to students and staff. These supports include the following:
Additionally, the division will utilize ESSER II-Set Aside funds to provide mental health and social & emotional supports through mental health professional development and training.
Food services for the 2022-23 school year return to pre-COVID procedures.
Bus transportation will be provided to all students who request a ride in our tracked ridership format. Cleaning will follow regular sanitizing and disinfecting procedures.
YCSD will use approximately of $2,724,384 its ARP Act ESSER III funds in accordance with Section 2001(e) of the ARP Act as described below to support the continuity of services.
In developing the ARP ESSER III Plan, YSCD staff conducted consultation in the following ways:
During the period of the ARP ESSER award, YCSD will periodically review and, as needed, revise its plan for the safe return to in-person instruction and continuity of services. The plan will be reviewed at least every 6 months from its approval by the school board.
The York County School Division has taken the following steps to make this plan available to the public:
Upon request, a parent who is an individual with a disability, as defined by the ADA, may be provided with the plan in an alternative format. Contact Termaine Hopkins, Director of Special Education to request this service.