first day of school Hempfield

Students arrive for the first day of classes at Hempfield High School Tuesday, Aug. 25, 2020.

Several Lancaster County school districts are reducing or delaying in-person instruction at the start of the New Year to prevent COVID-19 outbreaks in schools following the holiday break.

Among the school districts making a move are Cocalico, Hempfield, Lancaster, Manheim Township, Octorara Area and Penn Manor.

The decisions mirror those made at numerous school districts before Thanksgiving break as students and employees take the risk of contracting and spreading COVID-19 by traveling or gathering with family over the holidays.

At Cocalico, the entire district is moving to remote instruction from Jan. 4 to 6, with students expected to return in-person Jan. 7. As LNP | LancasterOnline previously reported, elementary students will resume full-time, in-person learning while secondary students will follow a hybrid schedule with both online and in-person instruction for the remainder of the first semester.

Hempfield last week announced a similar move, as students districtwide will learn remotely on Jan. 4. The district expects to announce plans for the rest of that week by noon Jan. 4. Potential options include a return to in-person learning the next day or additional remote days between Jan. 5 and 8, at all buildings or specific buildings.

Lancaster and Manheim Township school districts in recent months already made decisions related to in-person instruction after the holidays.

The vast majority of students in the School District of Lancaster are learning remotely until at least Jan. 25. A small portion of special education students resumed in-person instruction in September.

All Manheim Township students will follow a hybrid schedule the week of Jan. 4, followed by a gradual, grade-by-grade transition to fully in-person instruction by Jan. 25.

At Octorara Area School District, which serves students from Chester County and a sliver of eastern Lancaster County, most students will return to regular, in-person instruction after the break; however, Octorara Junior-Senior High School students will learn online for the first week back, and then follow a hybrid schedule starting Jan. 11. The district announced the change on Tuesday.

Penn Manor, meanwhile, is extending hybrid learning at the high school after the holiday break through Feb. 5, the district announced Tuesday. Students in kindergarten through eighth grade aren’t impacted by the move.

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