SDL School District of Lancaster

Pivoting from its previous plan to offer a "hybrid" of online and in-person instruction, the School District of Lancaster now plans to begin the school year with 100% online classes.

The school board voted Tuesday evening to authorize the change in strategy, in response over the health risks posed by in-person classes during the coronavirus pandemic.

Superintendent Damaris Rau said in a statement the district intends to shift to the hybrid model once it's determined to be feasible: "We know that our students do better when they engage with our staff in person."

A previously scheduled virtual town hall has been shifted to 6 p.m Tuesday, Aug. 13. It will cover the expectations for students during the virtual-instruction phase, the district said.

The board's decision would make School District of Lancaster the only district in Lancaster County to go 100% online, according to LNP.

The decision runs counter to the comments last week of Lancaster County's two Republican commissioners, Josh Parsons and Ray D'Agostino, who both said they believe schools and colleges can accommodate in-person instruction safely.

Nationwide, the issue has sharply divided health experts, political officials, the education community and parents. The American Academy of Pediatrics supports the resumption of in-person education. However, school closures are credited with dramatically reducing Covid-19 cases and deaths; moreover, no other country has attempted to reopen its educational system with case levels as high as they are in hard-hit areas of the U.S.

Tim Stuhldreher