Amid coronavirus pandemic, when is it too early – or too late – to close Pa. schools?

With no known positive or presumptive cases, school officials here largely remain under the guidance of state and federal authorities.

  • Ivey DeJesus/PennLive

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(Harrisburg) — Across Pennsylvania, dozens of schools have closed amid coronavirus concerns.

The Cheltenham School District, for instance, shuttered operations this week after officials there determined that a parent may have been exposed to a positive coronavirus case.

Dozens of other schools, the majority in the southeastern part of the state, have also canceled classes amid similar concerns.

But in central Pennsylvania, with the exception of unceasing reminders to wash hands and cough into elbow crooks, hundreds of thousands of students – as well as faculty and staff – have gone about their days as usual.

The State College Area School District told parents and staff Wednesday that the district would be closed to students next week in order to prepare for the coronavirus. So far, the vast majority of schools in central Pennsylvania are remaining open.

With no known positive or presumptive cases, school officials here largely remain under the guidance of state and federal authorities.

School communities remain in a wait-and-see mode. Still, they’re confronting a host of challenges, such as delivering instruction at home and aiding those kids who depend on schools for their meals.

“I think the challenge right now is really looking at when are we being preemptive and when are we being reactive, and when is it appropriate?” said David Christopher, superintendent of the 9,500-student Cumberland Valley School District.

Like the majority of school communities in central Pennsylvania this week, Cumberland Valley continued its day-to-day school operation unchanged.

“Is it appropriate to preemptively close schools when there are no cases in Cumberland County? That is hard for people to understand why you would do that. But, if you wait too long, you miss the window.”

Pennsylvania Secretary of Health Dr. Rachel Levine this week addressed a number of school-related topics at one of the many covid-19 preparedness forums. She said she wants schools to work with state health and education officials to reach their decisions.

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