The Saucon Valley School District provided an update Wednesday on the number of COVID-19 cases that have been confirmed in schools since the 2020-2021 school year began.
According to an email to parents from superintendent Dr. Craig Butler, there have been 29 cases in the district since the start of school, including four cases in the elementary school, two cases in the middle school and 23 cases in the high school.
Butler said that in the future he will provide parents with case total updates “rather than notifying you of each individual positive case,” as he has often done throughout the fall.
The number of cases being reported overall increased substantially throughout November and early December, particularly in the high school, where the majority of cases have been reported.
As of earlier this week, Saucon Source had reported on 20 cases in all three schools. The disparity between that total and the total in Butler’s mid-week update is due to the fact that according to the district’s COVID-19 dashboard–which lists student health statistics–there was a large spike in the number of cases at the high school last week.
According to the dashboard, 12 cases were confirmed there the week of Nov. 30 to Dec. 4, when students were not attending classes in-person. Rather, all students studied virtually last week, to help prevent the spread of COVID-19 following the Thanksgiving holiday.
Prior to last week, there had been nine cases confirmed at the high school since August.
Butler said in his email Wednesday that no new cases were confirmed in district schools on Monday and Tuesday, Dec. 7 and 8. Since he announced that there have been 23 cases at the high school to date, additional cases may have been confirmed over the weekend of Dec. 5-6.
At least one staff member at Saucon Valley has tested positive for COVID-19 since the school year began, and it was unclear if the total Butler provided included non-students.
Butler encouraged parents to utilize the student health information dashboard, which provides weekly updates on things like the number of student visits to the nurse in each school and the number of students sent home each week. This data is compared with the data from the 2019-2020 school year, and in many cases the number of students visiting the nurse and/or going home sick appears to be significantly higher this school year.
Butler also asked for parental assistance with the timely reporting of any potential COVID symptoms to school nurses.
“I would kindly ask that you report information to your child’s school nurse should he/she be determined a close contact, be experiencing COVID symptoms, currently undergoing COVID testing or be identified as a positive case,” he wrote. “Immediate communication with the school nurse is absolutely vital as it relates to our management of the schools during the pandemic. Serving as co-pandemic coordinators, the school nurses are the central gatekeepers for information we receive regarding COVID.”
He also noted that the district’s updated Health & Safety Plan for students and staff may be found on the website, which also features COVID-19 protection tips from the Pennsylvania Department of Health among other resources.
The department announced 8,703 additional positive cases of COVID-19 Wednesday, bringing the state total to 445,317. It also announced 220 additional deaths from the disease, which was the highest single-day total since the pandemic began in the spring.
An additional case confirmed by the department belonged to one of Pennsylvania’s most recognizable crusaders against COVID-19. Gov. Tom Wolf, who has been outspoken in advocating for things like the wearing of face masks and avoiding large gatherings, announced Wednesday that he is asymptomatic in spite of testing positive for the illness.