Next week, McKeesport Area School District will go fully remote to keep students safe from an ongoing outbreak of Covid-19 at several district buildings.
Two new cases are suspected today at the western Pennsylvania district, says a source close to the school board.
However all district buildings were open, and administrators say classes will continue in-person Thursday and Friday.
On Monday, the district will close for three days while all students learn on-line. Buildings will remain closed through Thanksgiving Break. Classes are scheduled to begin in-person again on Tuesday, Dec. 1.
Meanwhile, two staff members – one at the high school and one at Founders Hall – were reported having undergone tests for the virus this morning, according to a source close to the school board.
Allegheny County Health Department (ACHD) has not yet returned results for these two staff members.
This potentially brings the district total to 21 cases since September – 11 students and 10 staff.
Yesterday, I reported six new cases, four of which were confirmed by ACHD and two which had test results pending.
Since then, one negative test result was returned for a Twin Rivers staff member and one remains pending.
The district’s Covid Tracker on its Website has been updated to include one more case (bringing its total to 15) but district officials have not added the six additional cases reported on this blog over the last few days of which only three are pending test results.
The district Website and Facebook page explain the shortfall thus:
“Our case tracker is live on our website. We receive documentation when a case is confirmed to us by the Allegheny County Health Department. Only after we receive that documentation can we update the tracker.”
However, the county health department does not limit itself so when reporting new Covid cases. It reports a total number and then differentiates between confirmed cases and those pending test results.
For instance, the ACHD reported today that there were 620 new COVID-19 cases in the county. Of those, 506 are confirmed and 114 are probable.
The district should do the same.
Parents cannot wait until cases are confirmed before making decisions about whether to send their children to school buildings or not. The mere fact that additional cases are suspected is enough for some parents to exercise caution.
After all, if your child is swimming in shark infested waters, the mere sight of a dorsal fin might be enough to call him or her back to shore. Cautious parents will not wait to see exactly what shark-like creature is gaining momentum swimming toward their child before removing him or her from danger.
And make no mistake – these are shark infested waters.
Cases are spiking throughout the country, state and county.
The state announced there were 6,339 new COVID cases today – another record for the highest daily increase.
The ACHD is recommending a stay-at-home advisory unless people are going to work, school or need essentials like groceries or medical care.
Given such dangerous conditions, it is surprising the district has only committed to closing buildings for three school days.
The Thanksgiving holiday is unlikely to be a time when infections decrease. Family gatherings and holiday shopping are more likely to do just the opposite.
Many districts are closing through the end of the year or until the end of January – at least.
In any case, the district would better serve parents and the community at large if it were more transparent about exactly what is going on in its buildings.
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