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YCSDigest - December 14, 2020

Message from the Superintendent

Last week, Governor Northam enacted new restrictions in Virginia to help stem the spread of COVID-19. In doing so, he stressed that the new Executive Order does not change anything for schools. He further acknowledged that school is the best place for students and pledged that state leaders will continue working with local leaders to provide information needed to make decisions at the local level. The York County School Division remains committed to providing in-person instruction for all students within the guidelines and realities of a global pandemic. Our decisions regarding in-person learning are based on several factors.

First and foremost, staff review operational and health metrics daily – specifically monitoring the risk of in-school transmission. Our schools have shown to be a safe and structured environment in which in-person learning can occur. The CDC has reiterated its support for in-person learning - even when localities are in the higher or highest risk of transmission ranges. Additionally, the Virginia Department of Education is currently developing further guidance for evaluating all 3 core indicators collectively - case burden, case positivity and the division’s ability to implement mitigation strategies effectively.

The health and safety of our staff and students remains our top priority. Our staff and families have played a critical role in supporting these safe environments by staying home when sick and by reporting positive COVID-19 diagnoses. Our staff have been able to quickly identify exposures and close contacts, instruct people to quarantine and seek medical assistance (as appropriate), and make timely decisions for shifting students and staff to Remote Learning when needed.

As previously announced, all students will participate in Remote Learning for the week following Winter Break. This temporary shift will allow us to evaluate and address staffing issues and implement any necessary quarantines resulting from community exposure/transmission over the holidays. Recognizing that shifting between models presents challenges to families, students and staff, we hope that this timeline will not be extended further into the month of January. However, families should prepare for that possibility as sustained transmission inhibits our ability to contact trace and maintain safe, effective operations.

We also continue to work towards the identified, tentative dates for bringing additional grade levels into the Hybrid Model in January, but we need everyone’s help to make this happen. Please do your part by following state and federal guidance for gatherings, physical distancing, and mask use while you rest, recharge and enjoy time with your families over Winter Break.

Interim Reports

The division has adjusted dates for reporting interim grades. Teachers will have through January 5, 2021 to enter grades and Interim Reports will be posted on Aspen on January 7, 2021.

Wednesday Work – Secondary Students

This year, the division established Wednesdays as Student Support and Independent Learning Days for the Remote and Hybrid Learning models, and the YCSD Virtual Academy. As scheduled asynchronous school days, students have been expected to login at assigned times for attendance and complete independent or collaborative work, study, or quizzes and tests assigned by their teacher(s) for that day.

In response to feedback provided through the October family and employee surveys, the division conducted student conversations and staff focus groups regarding “Wednesday Work.” The survey results and further review has indicated that many secondary students (grades 6-12) are being given assignments that lead them to work well beyond the minimum asynchronous work requirements.

When school resumes in January, secondary students will no longer receive new assignments on Wednesdays. Secondary students will be expected to do the following during these school days:

  • login to their scheduled synchronous class meeting for attendance purposes
  • complete asynchronous work that is a continuation of learning from daily instruction
  • seek additional assistance from teachers, and/or attend student support sessions

Additionally, to the greatest extent possible, quizzes and tests will not be given outside of the regularly scheduled class period on synchronous instruction days (Monday, Tuesday, Thursday, and Friday).

There are no changes being implemented for Wednesdays at the elementary level as the current Wednesday schedules align to asynchronous work requirements.

YCSD IT Help Desk Hours

On January 4, the YCSD IT Help Desk will return to normal operating hours. Students and families can continue to reach out for device or technology support by email (ycsditsupport@ycsd.york.va.us) or by phone (757-527-4819) from 7 a.m. to 5 p.m., Monday through Friday. Emails or calls received outside those hours will be returned the next business day.

Impact Aid

President Donald Trump recently signed the Impact Aid Coronavirus Relief Act into law. This new legislation allows school divisions to use data collected during the 2019-20 school year for our next application. In other words, the division will receive the same funding level next year as we did this year. More importantly, this means we do not need to continue collecting Impact Aid cards at this time. Thank you to everyone who completed the required forms.