There is still a lot of work to be done before Eastern York School District is ready to reopen its doors to students in the fall, but board members took two steps toward that goal when they met June 16, approving a plan for the resumption of extracurricular activities.
“We are working on plans to safely and responsibly bring our students back,” Superintendent Joseph W. Mancuso III told the district’s school board during the meeting, which was the first held in person since the start of the pandemic. York County moved to the green phase of the state’s color-coded reopening plan last week.
The meeting was held in the gymnasium of the Wrightsville Elementary School, with mask-wearing board members widely spaced around a horseshoe-shaped arrangement of cafeteria table that took up almost half of the gym’s floor. The small audience that attended — about a half-dozen people including district staff members — were seated in folding chairs spaced 6 feet apart on the remaining floor space.
Mancuso said the district has appointed subcommittees to sort through the state and Centers for Disease Control and Prevention guidelines to develop various aspects of the reopening plans. Concerns range from how many students can safely be in a classroom to how many students can safely ride the same school bus.
The board approved the first phase of the district’s athletic health and safety plan. The seven-page plan, which is separate from the district’s educational plans, covers the return of off-season, voluntary workouts by the sports teams. Plan guidelines, which apply to weight training, speed and agility training, and skill development workouts, will also apply to the marching band.
In this phase, student athletes will be required to wear masks and must provide their own water bottles. All participants will undergo a pre-workout health screening, including having their temperature checked. All coaches will be provided with no-touch thermometers. Those who record a temperature of 100.4 degrees or higher will be directed to an athletic trainer for a more accurate oral temperature screening. Presumed confirmed cases will be isolated and parents notified. Athletes will need clearance by their doctor to return to the workouts.
Students who are exposed to COVID-19 will be required to self-quarantine for 14 days. And while the workouts are voluntary, coaches will be required to take attendance to facilitate contact tracing should an athlete become ill.
No nonessential individuals will be allowed at the workouts and individuals transporting students to and from the sessions must remain in their vehicle during pick-up and drop-off times. Dismissal times will be staggered to avoid large groups from congregating while waiting to be picked up.
Before any team can resume workouts, coaches must sign an acknowledgment that they have read and understand the guidelines. Parents and athletes will also be required to sign a waiver. Plans call for off season workouts to resume June 22.
Donald K. Knaub II, the district’s athletic director, said the plans were prepared following guidance from a variety of experts, including the PIAA, the state Department of Education, the CDC, and the state Department of Health. Work is also underway on the second phase of the plan, which will cover the resumption of fall sports team practices in August. Knaub said finalizing those plans is on hold while he awaits additional information from officials.
“Hopefully we will have more guidance,” Knaub said.