At least six more cases of COVID-19 have been identified at McKeesport Area School District, but you wouldn’t know it from administrators.
The information at the Western Pennsylvania district is being kept quiet instead of being released to the public.
So at the high school, two students tested positive, and at Twin Rivers Elementary, three staff and one student were identified as having the virus last week, according to a reliable source close to the school board.
Of those, two of the three Twin Rivers staff are awaiting confirmation of their test results from Allegheny County Health Department. The rest have all been tested and their results confirmed.
However, there are a few additional potential cases that remain to be investigated, according to the same source.
The district used to send out telephone, email and conventional mail alerts when students or staff tested positive.
Though the tracker has not yet been updated to include this information, it is being considered as the sole source of information to the community about cases, according to the school board source.
As of Monday night, the tracker only lists 14 cases in the district since buildings reopened in September – seven students at the high school, a student and a staff member at Founders Hall, two staff at Francis McClure Elementary and three staff at Twin Rivers.
The new cases would bring the district total to 20 – nine at the high school, seven at Twin Rivers with the numbers at other buildings unchanged.
That’s 11 students and 9 staff total – not counting any additional cases that may be coming.
I still think the tracker is a good idea, but it shouldn’t be the sole source of this information.
Parents should not have to check it every day to discover if an outbreak is underway. Administration should continue to provide this data with parents as things happen so parents can make informed decisions about continuing to send their children to in-person classes or not. (Many parents have their children enrolled in the district cyber program instead.)
And school directors should be using this data to determine if it is safe to keep buildings open at all.
Moreover, the tracker has its own glitches.
It does not come up when accessed through certain browsers like Firefox. Unless you use the most reliable browsers like Chrome, you can get nothing but an empty white screen.
With the county in the midst of a steadily increasing surge in Coronavirus cases, now is not the time to hold back on information.
On Sunday, the county broke precedent to report over the weekend an increase of 527 cases of COVID-19, the highest daily number reported since the pandemic began in March.
This followed a week of record-breaking reports from the Pennsylvania Department of Health, with an all-time high of 5,551 cases reported on Saturday throughout the state.
There have been 4,230 cases of COVID-19 in Allegheny County this month, alone.
Over the last week, the country has averaged more than 1,080 deaths a day – more than 30% higher than two weeks previous.
The McKeesport community deserves up-to-date information about viral spread in our schools.
Administrators need to step up the transparency.
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