Students in the York County School Division will start the school year virtually for the first nine weeks.
The move follows the decision made by Williamsburg-James City County Public Schools this week to proceed with remote learning for all students in the first nine weeks of the school year.
The York County School Board followed Superintendent Victor Shandor’s recommendation, but amended it by including the opportunity to bring younger students and those with learning disadvantages back into school buildings sooner, including grades Pre-K through third and students learning English.
A majority of the comments during two public comment sessions earlier this week urged board members to consider in-person learning. Many asked what working parents are supposed to do with their children during virtual learning.
“I don’t argue that families are put in very difficult situations, but the inflexible of employers is not a fault of the education system,” said board Chairman Brett Higginbotham.
Higginbotham said employers should look into options for remote learning and asked that members of the community help each other out, referencing the Grafton Complex fire in February.
“It will take all of us to support the students and families of YCSD,” he said.
Board members ended the meeting with commentary on the difficulty of their decision making.
“Our community has divided opinions on this matter, but our utmost priority must be safety,” board member James Richardson wrote in a letter included in an update from the school board.
Board members also reminded parents to complete the Family Commitment Form by Aug 4.
The purpose of the form is to assist board members in creating schedules and transportation routes once the division switches to an in-person model.
Families who want their children to return to school as soon as restrictions are lifted are encouraged to select Option 1, while families who prefer their children not to be in school buildings should select Option 2.
The next school board meeting will be on Aug. 24. The time and location is yet to be determined.
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