Ambridge School District: Department of Health advised closing middle school due to COVID-19 cases

AMBRIDGE, Pa. — Ambridge School District officials said they closed the middle school on the advice of officials from the Pennsylvania Department of Health because of the high number of COVID-19 cases.

Parents who spoke with Channel 11 said the rising cases are coming from what students are doing out of school. Looking at the vaccination rates, Beaver County’s population is only 47 percent fully vaccinated.

“We had a preemie baby, so it was house on lockdown. We were extra careful,” said Nikki Craddock.

Craddock sent two of her kids back to school, but her concerns are rising. She’s not alone. Parents we spoke to on social media said something needs to change as the numbers keep going up.

“It’s nerve wracking. Especially in the past couple weeks we’ve been getting calls after calls and it’s not only one call with one person but now it’s four people,” Craddock said.

In fact, the numbers are up to at least 14 at just the middle school according to the district’s notifications.

In response, the Pennsylvania Department of Health did recommend that the district go to remote learning for the week.

Here is a message from the superintendent in full:

“Dear Ambridge Area School District Community:

Due to the number of positive COVID-19 cases at Ambridge Area Middle School, we were advised by The Pennsylvania Department of Health to close Ambridge Area Middle School starting Tuesday, October 26, 2021. The Pennsylvania Department of Health will advise us on Friday, October 29, 2021, whether to resume live classes on Monday, November 1, 2021. During the closure, all extra-curricular activities for the Middle School will be cancelled. Also, during the Middle School closure, all students will log into their classes using Microsoft Teams remotely to receive their instruction. All other school buildings in the Ambridge Area School District will remain open and operate on their normal schedules.

The welfare, health and safety of our students, staff and visitors is of the utmost importance to the Ambridge Area School District. We have developed rigorous guidelines, procured necessary supplies, and held staff trainings to do everything possible to meet this goal.

Please remain vigilant against this public health threat which is circulating in our community. Together, we can work to prevent the spread of this virus and stand ready to do so. If you have any questions or concerns regarding the District’s actions surrounding COVID-19, feel free to contact:

Dr. Joseph W. Pasquerilla

Superintendent of Schools

Ambridge Area School District”

So how does the state determine if a school should close? A spokesperson with DOH told Channel 11 the following:

“When the department is evaluating a closure recommendation for a school, we look at what mitigation strategies are in place within the school (i.e.: physical distancing, masking, screening/diagnostic testing, ventilation) and make a recommendation based on the situation.”

As for reopening, the state said it works with the schools to recommend an appropriate closure length. The district hopes to reopen the school on Monday.