School board approved plan to return some students to in-person instruction

Citing an urgent need for students, particularly those with disabilities, to be physically in school, the School District of Lancaster board of directors unanimously approved a plan to begin bringing academically vulnerable students back into the classroom, starting Sept. 21.

The priority is to allow students attending self-contained special education classrooms to return first. These students are in autistic and multiple disabilities support classes.

In total, about 80 students in autistic support classes across six schools, 56 students in multiple disabilities support classes in three schools and Pediatric Specialty Care, and 12 students in the Lancaster Apartment Program would return to buildings beginning Sept. 21. These students would attend all day, four days a week, Monday, Tuesday, Thursday and Friday.

From there, the district could phase additional groups of students back into the classroom every few weeks. At the same time, the district will monitor aggregate county health data before moving to the next phase.

“There are no good solutions here, only less bad ones,” said director Dr. David Parry. “This is going to be very difficult to get fully open. Right now, given the current conditions, that’s not where we’re at.”

Superintendent Dr. Damaris Rau announced which student groups are in the subsequent phases, but did not commit to any timeline on when the phases would return. She also said groups could change based on students’ needs.

“It has to be done based on the data, the health data and our academic data,” she said. “There are no winning answers and no easy choices here.”

The subsequent groups would attend in a blended schedule, with half of the cohort attending on Mondays and Tuesdays and the other half on Thursdays and Fridays. Special populations, such as English Learners and students with IEPs, will phase in with their respective grade levels.

ImmediatePhase 1Phase 2
Autistic SupportKindergartenGrade 1
Multiple Disabilities SupportGrade 6CTE: Accounting, Administrative Assisting, Early Childhood, Health Careers
Lancaster Living Apartment ProgramBuehrle / Phoenix
Newcomer Program
CTE: Building Trades, Cosmetology, and Electronics
Return: Sept. 21Return: TBDReturn: TBD

*Pending the prison reopening to external programs