All Saucon Valley students in kindergarten through 12th grade will learn remotely after the Thanksgiving holiday, but only for a week and only as a precautionary measure.
Saucon Valley superintendent Dr. Craig Butler announced the decision in an email to parents Monday evening, just hours after high school students returned to classes following a two-week suspension of in-person learning and extracurricular activities due to a number of confirmed coronavirus cases there.
Students will learn remotely Nov. 30 through Dec. 4 and return to their physical classrooms on Monday, Dec. 7, Butler said. He noted that “the closure is strictly precautionary relative to preventing any potential spread of the virus in schools following the Thanksgiving holiday.”
Thanksgiving is on Thursday, Nov. 26, or 11 days before their scheduled return.
The amount of time between infection and the onset of COVID-19 symptoms can be anywhere from two to 14 days, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control, meaning that someone infected at Thanksgiving could theoretically be asymptomatic until Thursday, Dec. 10.
Pennsylvania health and education recommendations for counties in which there is substantial community transmission of the coronavirus are for public school districts to employ hybrid or entirely virtual models of study. As of last week, the state confirmed that substantial community transmission was occurring in Northampton County.
Saucon Valley is one of just a handful of local districts that continue to provide in-person education five days a week to all students whose families opted to send them back. At the start of the school year, approximately 80 percent chose to do that.
State officials have said they won’t require school districts to move classes online due to the virus’s spread, which has increased significantly recently, prompting Philadelphia to ban inside dining and close some businesses Monday. Instead, the state will continue to make recommendations, but leave the decision-making up to local school boards.
“I realize the hardship this may pose for some families,” Butler said in Monday’s email. “Rest assured our actions are based on the safety and welfare of the students.”
“The premise upon which we act is based on providing the safest environment possible for students when they are in the building,” he added. “Providing this hiatus of in-person instruction will hopefully curtail any potentially heightened spread of the virus.”
Saucon Valley elementary, middle and high school principals will send parents additional information about the period of online learning that will begin Nov. 30, Butler said.
To date this year, all of the confirmed cases of coronavirus in the district have been at Saucon Valley High School, which has closed twice based on health department advice, for a week in late September and for two weeks in early November.