Schools debating how to move forward amid COVID-19 surge

NATRONA HEIGHTS, Pa. — Schools around the area are trying to figure out the best way to deal with COVID-19 outbreaks in buildings.

After a number of kids got COVID-19, the schools are consulting with doctors and with officials at the Allegheny County Health Department.

Classes resumed for many districts within the last few weeks, and the districts have seen several surges among students.

Middle school students in the Highlands School District will learn remotely this week because of a high number of positive COVID-19 cases. According to the district’s website, Highlands Middle School is the only school that is moving to remote learning through Sept. 10. Teachers will post schedules, assignments and Zooms in their Google classrooms.

School is still on, and in person, at Marshall Middle School in North Allegheny — despite 25 kids testing positive for COVID-19. Since Friday, the district began tracking cases when the first case reported was tied to a North Allegheny activity or sport.

But some parents would like more information and specifics about the incident.

“Is this an eighth-grade problem, is this across the school, sports team, basic demographic information that may help the kids understand what the risk level is and what they’re doing to keep kids safe,” Heather Johanson said.

North Allegheny has a COVID-19 tracker on their website that shows the cases across the district. At Marshall, there were 25 cases.

“What I’m hearing from my daughters and her friends is that they’re scared and they don’t have any information. They’re seeing data, they’re seeing numbers, they’re smart kids and so they see that and it scares them,” Johnanson said. “What metrics are they using to decide what strategies are implemented at the school and how they’re coming up with the metrics?”

The district said they are monitoring the situation daily, as well as consulting with the health department and the district doctor. They also notify parents when their child has been identified as a close contact in a classroom, on a bus, sports team or activity, according to the district. As of now, there are no plans for going hybrid or virtual.