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State College Area School District Reports 3 Student Cases of COVID-19

by on September 14, 2020 9:10 PM

State College Area School District, which is in its second week of fully remote learning, reported on Monday three COVID-19 cases among students.

One case is a high school student who has not been in any district buildings this school year, Superintendent Bob O'Donnell wrote in a message to families.

The other two are students at Mount Nittany Elementary School and O'Donnell said contact tracing found no close contacts by them connected to district schools.

These are the first known cases among SCASD students, faculty or staff.

"We are now dealing with this virus on a more personal level, which really hits home," O'Donnell wrote. 

Because of privacy laws and out of respect for the families involved, O'Donnell said he could not divulge more information about the cases but added that school nurses are communicating with impacted families.

"We wish the best for the affected families and hope for swift recoveries," he wrote.

O'Donnell said that it is likely as the year goes on the district will have more student and employee positives. Cases within the school district community will be added to the district's COVID-19 dashboard

"These cases reiterate the importance of filling out the Reporting Positive Student COVID-19 Cases Form if one of your children tests positive for COVID-19, even while we’re in fully remote instruction," O'Donnell wrote. "We are continually evaluating data, and the information supplied by this form will help further inform our decision making. As always, the health and safety of our school community will be paramount with everything we do."

After a little more than a week of offering in-person classes, State College Area schools have been in district-wide remote learning since last week, when Centre County reached the Pennsylvania health and education departments' substantial level of community transmission. Since Sept. 1, the county has had 746 new COVID-19 cases, 270 more than the months of March through August combined. The vast majority of new cases have been in the State College and University Park zip codes and have mostly been tied to Penn State student testing.

Centre County also had, by far, the highest incidence rate in the state last week at 255.5 cases per 100,000 peopleaccording to the Department of Health's early warning monitoring dashboard..

Last week, the school board approved changes to the district's health and safety plan to give administrators more flexibility for deciding between remote and in-person learning, with the aim of have kids in schools as long as it is safe to do so.

Administrators and the district's health and safety team are evaluating data on a daily basis and decisions on remote or in-person learning for the following week will be announced on Fridays.

At the start of the school year on Aug. 26, about 73% of district families opted for in-person learning, with the remainder selecting remote and Virtual Academy options.

Geoff Rushton is managing editor for Contact him at [email protected] or find him on Twitter at @geoffrushton.
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