York County School Division

Safe Return Plan to In-Person Instruction and Continuity of Services


The purpose of the American Rescue Plan (ARP) Act Elementary and Secondary School Emergency Relief (ESSER) III Fund is to help safely reopen and sustain the safe operation of schools and address the impacts of COVID-19 on the nation’s students by addressing students’ academic, social, emotional, and mental health needs. This plan describes how the York County School Division (YCSD) will maintain the health and safety of students, educators, and other school and division staff during and following the return to full in-person instruction. Questions about this plan should be directed to Dr. Vika Stephenson, Grant Coordinator/Writer at tstephenson@ycsd.york.va.us or at 757-898-0300.

On July 23, 2020, the YCSD School Board approved the 2020-21 Return to School Plan, which was periodically revised throughout the school year and updated with the Virginia Department of Education (VDOE) as changes warranted or when specific grade levels of students returned to in-person instruction. The plan outlined modifications to normal practice for all division services including, but not limited to, reopening metrics, instructional options, school schedules, new instruction, identification of instructional gaps and student needs, social emotional learning (SEL) and supports, technology, COVID-19 response plans, school operations including health and safety measures taken, transportation, athletics and extracurricular activities, family engagement, and communications.

The York County School Division is committed to the safe return to full in-person instruction during the 2021-22 school year and will continue to implement necessary measures to maintain the health and safety of all students and staff. The following sections outline the divisions 2021-22 plan for the safe return to in-person instruction and continuity of services.

Maintaining Health and Safety

In order to maintain the health and safety of all students and staff, YCSD will align its practices, to the greatest extent possible, to the VDOE Interim Guidance for COVID-19 Prevention in PK-12 Schools. Specifics are below.

Mask Wearing

The Virginia State Health Commissioner issued a public health order on August 12, 2021 regarding mask requirements in schools. After consulting with the division's legal counsel, the division has been advised that the Commissioner's order supersedes any local action. All School Board members have also been advised and have individually indicated they understand and support the division's plan to comply with the state order. As such, the division will adhere to the commissioner's order effective August 12, 2021.

Physical Distancing

Although physical distancing may be challenging as all PK-12 students return to in-person instruction, YCSD schools are advised to provide as much physical distancing as possible between students during instruction, without sacrificing instructional best practices, as well as during food service.

Handwashing and Respiratory Etiquette

Hand sanitizing or handwashing is encouraged upon entering schools, before and after lunch, before and after PE/recess, before and after using shared materials including academic manipulatives, and prior to going home. When traditional soap and water is not available, hand sanitizer may be used until handwashing can occur. Division approved and provided signage with graphics will be posted encouraging proper hand washing and good general hygiene practice. Hand hygiene supplies are readily available in buildings. Hand sanitizing foam is available in each classroom, common areas, and exterior entrances.

Daily Health Screenings

Daily home health screenings will be expected for students and staff prior to entering a school or office building. This includes a temperature check, review of symptoms, and an assessment of potential COVID-19 exposure. Temperature checks at schools will occur when staff or students are symptomatic or suspected of exposure. The school nurse will record staff temperatures using a confidential notebook system, while student temperatures will be documented per normal procedures in Aspen. Checks will be performed at a designated location (primarily clinic). During times of high community transmission, students suspected of exposure will be checked at clinic thresholds. Additionally, teachers will conduct hourly visual checks in class. Any students appearing unwell will be sent to the nurse’s clinic for further evaluation.

Maintaining Healthy Facilities


During times of high community transmission, division custodians will disinfect high contact surfaces in common areas and bathrooms every two hours. In addition, areas known to have been used by a case positive individual will be immediately closed for use and disinfected.


All YCSD ventilation systems have been designed and constructed in accordance with the industry standard ASHRAE 62.1 Ventilation for Acceptable Indoor Air Quality and the International Mechanical Code, Chapter 4, Ventilation, which has been adopted by the Virginia Uniform Building Code. While the Standard and the Code have changed over time, the result of the procedure for determining the amount of ventilation air required has remained nearly constant at approximately 15 cubic feet per minute (CFM) per person. Ventilation air is introduced into buildings via the HVAC systems to dilute the indoor air of contaminants.

At Bethel Manor Elementary, Tabb Elementary, Yorktown Elementary, Waller Mill Elementary and the Grafton Complex, the ventilation systems were designed and constructed in accordance with the Standards and Codes identified above. In addition, bipolar ionization technology was designed and installed into these HVAC systems and was shown to reduce the level of contaminants in the indoor air and allow for a reduction in ventilation air. The bipolar ionization device produces positive and negative ions which attack contaminants in the air stream and kills them. Contaminants killed include viruses, mold spores and bacteria and bipolar ionization has also been shown to effectively neutralize SARS-CoV-2 under certain test conditions. The use of bipolar ionization allowed for a reduction of ventilation air to between 5 to 7.5 CFM/person.

Contact Tracing and Isolation & Quarantine

Contact Tracing

Division staff will collaborate with Peninsula Health District staff to determine who may have had close contact, as defined by VDH contact tracing guidelines with the case positive individual. Those individuals that are determined to have had close contact with a case positive individual will be personally notified.


Isolation is for individuals who have confirmed or suspected cases of COVID-19, regardless of vaccination status.

Isolation recommendations differ depending on the presence of symptoms.

Students and staff who test positive but have no symptoms:

  • Isolate for at least 5 days, and if still no symptoms, may end isolation on Day 6
  • Wear a well-fitting mask when around others for the next 5 days*

*If wearing a mask is not possible for days 6 through 10, isolate for a full 10 days.

Students and staff who test positive and have symptoms or develop symptoms:

  • Isolate for 5 days, if fever-free and asymptomatic, may end isolation on Day 6
  • Wear well-fitting mask when around others for the next 5 days
  • If symptoms persist more than 5 days, wait until symptom free for 24 hours before ending isolation.


Quarantine is for individuals identified, through contact tracing, as a close contact of an individual with COVID-19. Close contact means being within 6 feet of a person with COVID-19 for a total of 15 minutes or more minutes within a 24-hour period or having exposure to the positive person’s respiratory secretions (coughed or sneezed on, sharing a drink or utensils, or kissing). Close contact exception: a student who was within 3 to 6 feet of a positive student is not considered a close contact as long as both students wore well-fitting masks during the exposure.

Quarantine recommendations differ based on vaccination and booster status, or prior history of infection in the last 90 days.

Students and staff should quarantine for at least 5 days if they are:

  • Age 18 and older and fully vaccinated1 but not "up-to-date2" with vaccination status
  • Not fully vaccinated1

Preschool students must quarantine for 10 days
Close contacts of a Household Family Member who are unvaccinated or not "up-to-date2" with vaccination and are unable to isolate from the positive family member must quarantine for 10 days

Students and staff do NOT need to quarantine after a close contact if they are:

  • Age 18 and older and are "up-to-date2" with vaccination status
  • Ages 5-17 and fully vaccinated1
  • Have had COVID-19 in the last 90 days

1Fully Vaccinated: individuals who have received the initial recommended dosage of Modena, Pfizer or Johnson & Johnson vaccine
2Up-to-Date: Individuals who have received a booster dose of any COVID-19 vaccine or who are fully vaccinated but not yet eligible for a booster dose

Diagnostic and Screening Testing

YCSD has no plans to engage in a testing/screening program at this time.

Efforts to Provide Vaccination to School Communities

YCSD has promoted and facilitated initial vaccination shots for employees. Once vaccinations were made available to children 12 and over, the division organized two vaccination dates to assist parents in quick of distribution to those families desiring the vaccination. The division also made facilities available for local organizations conducting their own shot clinics at no cost to the organizing pharmacies, labs and non-profit organizations. The division plans to support shot clinics when vaccinations are approved for groups of students under 12 years of age.

COVID-19 Dashboard

In the interest of transparency with our stakeholders, YCSD launched an online dashboard in September 2020 to keep families, staff and the community informed about positive COVID-19 cases within the school division. This dashboard will be relaunched at the reopening of school and will include the following data: the number of positive COVID-19 cases by location each week, the number of quarantines by exposure source (school or community). The data can be manipulated by website users by date and location.

Coordination with State and Health Officials

YCSD continues to have ongoing dialogue with the Peninsula Health Department through its assigned epidemiologist, Alexis Brown. There are also periodic conversations with Dr. Natasha Dwamena and the area superintendents in which either Dr. Shandor, Division Superintendent or Dr. Carroll, Chief Operations Officer, participates.

Accommodations to Support Children with Disabilities

The York County School Division will provide appropriate accommodations to support children with disabilities in respect to state and division health and safety policies.

Continuity of Services

YCSD will continue to take the necessary actions to ensure continuity of services, including but not limited to services to address students’ academic needs and students' and staff social, emotional, mental health, and other needs. Additionally, the division will continue to provide supports to address the needs of students with individualized learning plans throughout the school year. Specifics of the academic plan for the 2021-22 school year are outlined below.

In-Person Instruction

The division plans to ensure all students have access to a full-time educational program with five days a week of in-person instruction. Families were provided an opportunity to register with Virtual Virginia if they desired full-time virtual instruction.

Technology Integration

The shift to emergency remote learning due to COVID-19 school closures identified significant gaps in equitable access to technology among students. Therefore, the County School Board and the York County Board of Supervisors approved funding to launch a 1:1 Technology Program for all students in grades K-12. The division identified new programs and improved existing education technology programs for the 2020-21 school year to enhance student learning and provide more efficient and effective school-home communication regarding student learning. For the 2021-22 school year, these devices will serve as a classroom enhancement supported by the following tools. A short description are included below:

  • 1:1 Technology Program: Each student in grades K-12 will have a laptop or tablet device, either division issued or personally owned, for use in person and at home.
  • Canvas LMS: Supports all facets of instruction: face-to-face, blended, and online learning. Using this online platform, teachers can create course content, access digital resources, assign and grade student work, provide audio and video feedback, and utilize many other features to support student learning.
  • Microsoft Office 365: Suite of productivity tools for teachers and students, which include Word, Power Point, Excel, Stream (video), Forms, and Teams.
  • Microsoft Teams: Videoconferencing software that allows for synchronous instruction, as well as collaboration across the school division with parents, teachers, administrators, and students.
  • Mastery Connect: Assessment platform available within Canvas. This tool will be used to create online assessments, generate reports and monitor students' learning gaps.

Addressing Unfinished Learning

YCSD will use approximately $2,652,693 of its ARP Act ESSER III funds to address unfinished learning as described below.

  • Provide traditional and enrichment summer school opportunities during summer 2022 through summer 2024.
  • Provide e-Tutoring opportunities for all students in grade 3 through 12.
  • Provide supports to address the continuity of learning.
  • Provide LETRS training and materials for cohort teachers.
  • Provide training and instructional materials to support writing instruction in grades 3-12.
  • Hire two additional gifted teachers to provide specialized gifted services and subject specific enrichment to identified gifted students.
  • Hire an English Language (EL) Coach to support the EL program by mentoring, monitoring, and assisting EL teachers in implementing research-based best instructional practices.
  • Hire an Assessment, Compliance and Intervention Coordinator (ACI) to coordinate and monitor processes and requirements for Tired Systems of Support/Response to Intervention (TSS/RtI) programs.

Mental Health and Social & Emotional Learning

In partnering with our family and community supports, YCSD engages in creating a positive, connected, inclusive, and safe environment to embrace ALL learners through the development of a social emotional learning framework that empowers:

  • Relationship Skills,
  • Responsible Decision-Making,
  • Self-Management,
  • Self-Awareness, and
  • Social Awareness.

Acknowledging diversity is foundational in building capacity for our social and emotional awareness while sustaining an intentional focus on equitable access and academic success. YCSD schools have allocated ESSER III funds to provide mental health and social & emotional learning supports to students and staff. These supports include the following:

  • Kognito Training for all staff.
  • Kognito Trauma Informed Practices training for all staff.
  • Cognitive Behavioral Intervention for Trauma in Schools (CBITS) training for select staff.
  • Trauma Focused -- Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (TF-CBT) training for select staff.

Additionally, the division will utilize ESSER II-Set Aside funds to provide mental health and social & emotional supports through mental health professional development and training as well as professional development at each school provided by participants of the division Mindfulness Cohort.

Food Services

The division has provided and/or delivered over 1.5M meals to York County residents. This process continues until the first day of school August 30, 2021. All school meals will be free of charge this year to students in school. For students who have enrolled in the Virtual Virginia program, a needs assessment will be conducted to make appropriate plans for provision of free breakfast and lunch as appropriate.


Bus transportation will be provided to all students who request a ride in our tracked ridership format. All staff and students, as per federal mandate, will wear a mask during their time on all school buses. In addition, all bus surfaces will be coated with a Microban protectant that lasts 90-120 days. Protectant will be reapplied every 90 days. Frequent high touch surfaces (e.g. stairwell rail, van doors and seat belts) will be disinfected between all routes including vans.

Other Supports for Continuity of Services

YCSD will use approximately of $2,138,553 its ARP Act ESSER III funds in accordance with Section 2001(e) of the ARP Act as described below to support the continuity of services.

  • Provide resources and training in support of building family and home partnerships.
  • Provide curriculum, instruction, and assessment professional development, training, and supports for highly vulnerable populations.
  • Provide a Virginia Preschool Initiative (VPI) Summer Academy in the 2022, 2023, and 2024.
  • Provide an elementary transition program for students with communication and behavioral needs.
  • Provide mental health training to all staff.
  • Provide training on interventions for trauma informed practices to select staff.
  • Purchase assistive technologies for K-12 communication support and multiple disabilities programs.
  • Purchase additional technology for student and staff use.
  • Hire an additional speech language pathologist to support select schools.
  • Hire an Assistive Technology/Autism Services Improvement (ASIT) Coach and a cohort of teachers who will be trained and receive a stipend to support the successful implementation of the assistive technologies in classroom instruction. to support classroom teachers.
  • Reserve indirect costs as allowed by federal and state guidelines.

Creation of and Timeline for Plan Review

Consultation with Stakeholders and Opportunity for Public Comment

In developing the ARP ESSER III Plan, YSCD staff conducted consultation in the following ways:

  • During the month of July, the York County School Division shared the YCSD ARP ESSER III Stakeholder Survey on the division website for community feedback.
  • Stakeholders included students, parents/families, administrators, support staff, and community members.
  • Stakeholder groups included individuals who represented students from the most vulnerable populations to include: children experiencing homeless, children in foster care, students with disabilities, migratory students, English learners, and other underserved populations.
  • After the completion of the public comment period, SBO staff reviewed the survey results and utilized stakeholder input in order to draft the ESSER III plan.

Periodic Review and Revision of Plan

During the period of the ARP ESSER award, YCSD will periodically review and, as needed, revise its plan for the safe return to in-person instruction and continuity of services. The plan will be reviewed at least every 6 months from its approval by the school board.

Making the Plan Available to the Public

The York County School Division has taken the following steps to make this plan available to the public:

  • The plan is posted on the York County School Division website.
  • The plan is available in English and Spanish languages.
  • The plan may be orally translated for parents. Contact Dr. Vika Stephenson, Grant Coordinator/Writer at tstephenson@ycsd.york.va.us to request translation services.
  • Upon request, a parent who is an individual with a disability as defined by the ADA may be provided with the plan in an alternative format accessible by contacting Dr. Elaine Gould, Director of Student Services at egould@ycsd.york.va.us.

Print version of the Safe Return Plan to In-Person Instruction and Continuity of Services

Revised 1/13/2022