Friday night’s Saucon Valley football game was postponed late this afternoon, after a student at Saucon Valley High School tested positive for the novel coronavirus; the second student at the school to do so this week.
In an email to parents this evening, superintendent Dr. Craig Butler said the district was notified of the student’s diagnosis in the afternoon, and that as a result of it and the earlier case the high school will be closed for five days beginning Saturday, Oct. 31.
“All high school extracurricular activities are canceled for the same duration of time,” Butler said. “All high school students will transition to remote learning Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday of next week. Faculty and staff are expected to report to the building.”
In-person instruction for high school students will resume on Thursday, Nov. 5, he said.
In the meantime, classes will be held as normal at the elementary and middle schools.
To help prevent further spread of the illness, Butler said the district is assisting the state Department of Health with contact tracing in the wake of Friday’s additional case.
“The district will notify all close contacts in a timely fashion,” he said.
Saucon Valley High School was temporarily closed for five days in late September after a student and a teacher both tested positive for COVID-19 within the span of a week.
A football game was also postponed at the last minute in September.
The Panthers were scheduled to play the Palisades Pirates at 7 p.m. Friday on their home turf at Montford E. Illick Stadium in Lower Saucon Township, with Saucon Source and Saucon Athletics set to livestream the game on YouTube due to restrictions on public gatherings that remain in effect.
As of Friday evening, it was unclear when the Palisades game might be rescheduled.
District Athletic Director Bob Frey released the following statement:
Tonight’s Palisades at Saucon Valley Football game was cancelled on Friday evening after the Saucon Valley School District received confirmation of a second positive case within the high school this week, just hours before kickoff. None of the cases involved the football team, however, based on guidance from the Department of Health, PDE and our medical team, our game was cancelled for the safety of the Saucon Valley and Palisades community. Our deepest apologies to all the participants on both sides as we strive to keep everyone healthy.
It was also unclear if the decision to close the high school could impact its use as a polling station during Tuesday’s general election. In fact, more voters than in years past may be using the high school gymnasium as their polling station, after Northampton County election officials discontinued their use of the Saucon Valley Community Center in Hellertown earlier this year.
According to the latest figures on the tracking site CovidActNow.org, Northampton County reported an average of approximately 40 new cases a day for the 7-day period ending Oct. 29.
That puts the county in a category above that at which the disease’s spread is considered somewhat contained, and is the highest the rolling average has been since early May. It also mirrors a surge in new cases that is happening throughout most of Pennsylvania currently, including in neighboring Lehigh County.
With both presidential candidates focusing on Pennsylvania due to its reputation as a battleground state, and millions planning to go to the polls on Nov. 3, concerns have been raised about the election’s potential impact on the growing outbreak in the state in spite of the fact that millions of residents have already voted by mail.
President Donald Trump is scheduled to campaign in Berks County and elsewhere in Pennsylvania this weekend, and former vice president Joe Biden will go on a one-day “barnstorming tour” on Monday, according to his campaign