A spike in COVID-19 cases has resulted in the temporary closure of Saucon Valley High School.
School district superintendent Dr. Craig Butler notified families of the decision to transition students to virtual learning in an email Wednesday afternoon.
In it, he said there have been seven confirmed COVID-19 cases at the high school since Jan. 4, when students returned from Christmas break.
“The rolling 14-day timeframe as prescribed by the Pennsylvania Department of Education does not restart at the high school despite our cleaning and disinfecting this past weekend,” Butler explained. “As a result, congruent with PDE guidelines, I am transitioning the high school to remote learning for tomorrow, Jan. 14.”
Butler said the district’s custodial staff will “do a deep cleaning and disinfecting of the entire high school” on Friday, Jan. 15 and Monday, Jan. 18, which is Martin Luther King Day and a federal holiday.
“I have submitted this information to the Department of Health so they are aware of our plan,” he said. “My hope is to restart in-person instruction at the high school beginning Tuesday the 19th.”
“With that said, all other protocols have been followed with regard to case investigation, contact tracing and quarantining,” he added.
According to the information contained in the email, there have been two positive cases at Saucon Valley Elementary School and two positive cases at Saucon Valley Middle School since Jan. 4. However, the plan for the high school does not have any bearing on the other schools, whose students are expected to report to class as usual on Thursday.
The Pennsylvania Department of Health reported 7,960 new cases of COVID-19 Wednesday, which brought the total number of cases to date to nearly 750,000.
There are currently approximately 5,200 people hospitalized with the disease, with about 20 percent of those patients in intensive care, a news release from the department said.
Northampton County continues to see more new cases on a daily basis than the state as a whole, with approximately 250 new cases being reported daily, according to CovidActNow. That avearge has ticked upward over the past two weeks.
The latest published statistics list a positive test rate of 17.8 percent, which is also higher than the state’s rate of 14.4 percent.
Lehigh County currently is reporting an average of 327 new cases daily, and has a positive test rate of 19 percent.
Overall, cases have decreased in Pennsylvania since a temporary three-week dining ban was enacted by Gov. Tom Wolf over the holidays, although numbers remain high.