Elizabethtown Area School District

When: Elizabethtown Area school board meeting, Aug. 11.

What happened: The board decided to move forward with its plan for full-time in-person instruction when school opens Aug. 31 rather than go with a state recommendation given Aug. 10 that schools in Lancaster County not return to full-time in-person instruction because coronavirus infection rates exceeded a certain level. However, the district will be prepared to pivot to a hybrid model of classroom and online learning or to an online-only program in case of increasing COVID-19 transmission rates. The only board member against the plan in informal polling was Erin Grosh.

Background: Like several other county districts, Elizabethtown approved a plan in July to offer full-time traditional in-person learning along with a new online option.

Discussion: Grosh, who had voted no on the reopening plan in July, said she appreciated the work that went into the plan, but believes it is missing “critical pieces,” namely readily available testing and contract tracing.

Quotable: “I feel like the proposed plan fails to balance the community wishes with the currently available science,” Grosh said. “We’re living in this moment where, as an educational organization and as parents, we have this opportunity to model what trusting science looks like.” And, she added, that means waiting until such safety mechanisms are in place.

The numbers: Assistant Superintendent Daniel Serfass reported that as of Aug. 11, out of a total enrollment of 3,757 students, 3,011 students, or 80%, have opted for in-person learning. Close to 20%, or 745, have opted for the district’s online option. Also, 105 students signed up for the district’s cyber school, Lancaster-Lebanon Virtual Solutions, with 81 of those newly enrolled.

Modified schedule: Serfass also described a modified schedule for the first four days of school, with half the students attending Monday and Wednesday and the other half going Tuesday and Thursday, in order to check health and safety protocols. The first day of kindergarten will now be Sept. 8.

Athletics: Athletic director Bill Templin described a plan to broadcast sporting events on YouTube or Facebook Live, given the governor’s order prohibiting spectators at games. There will be no sales of reserve seats and season passes for football games nor senior citizen passes handed out until state guidance changes, Templin said. Marching band and cheerleaders can be at home games only.