With the number of positive COVID-19 cases increasing at the high school in the past 14 days, Emmaus has decided to close for the next five school days. All students, including students at LCTI, will attend classes virtually from Nov. 10 through Nov. 16, with hybrid instruction starting again on Tuesday, Nov. 17.
EHS parents were first notified by the district of a positive COVID-19 case from someone associated with the EHS girls’ varsity soccer team on Oct. 25. Since then, there have been four positive cases at Emmaus: one on Oct. 29, another on Nov. 6, an additional one on Nov. 8, and the final one on Nov. 9.
Any student or staff member who has been in close contact with a person confirmed to have COVID-19 will receive more information from the Pennsylvania Department of Health. These individuals are required to quarantine for 14 days.
Going forward, East Penn will continue to monitor the number of cases at each school and work with the Pennsylvania Department of Health to make decisions about whether it is safe to continue in-person learning or not.
At the East Penn School Board meeting on Nov. 9, members of the school board voted 8-1 to amend the East Penn School District Health and Safety Plan. Many major aspects of the plan remain the same, such as requiring six feet of social distancing and making masks mandatory on school property.
One change is that, rather than referring to red, yellow, and green phases of COVID-19 as the plan currently does, those phrases will be replaced with substantial spread, minimal or moderate spread, and low or no spread.
Another change comes after recommendations to close schools that are in areas of substantial spread, such as Emmaus in Lehigh County. However, it is up to individual schools to decide to follow that guideline or not. In this change to the Health and Safety Plan, for now, Emmaus will not need to close even though it is located in a county with substantial spread. On Dec. 14, information gathered by the Health and Safety Plan task force will be used to determine if schools should be closed to in-person instruction while the county is an area of substantial spread.
While waiting for input from the Health and Safety Plan task force, Superintendent Kristen Campbell will be able to, after consulting with the school board, decide that remote learning should be mandatory while the Lehigh County is in a phase of substantial spread. This decision will be based on if there is an inability to staff a particular building or the district as a whole, if there is a high risk to the health of the community, if there is a considerate increase in the number of confirmed or probable cases of COVID-19, if the Pennsylvania Department of Health sends out updated recommendations that would make remote learning necessary, or if the benefits associated with in-person instruction are overshadowed by the impact of future state-mandated regulations.
Image courtesy of Canva.