Northern York middle and high schools halt in-person learning due to COVID-19 cases

The district plans to return to in-person learning late next week if the situation improves.

  • Brett Sholtis

(Dillsburg) — Northern York County School District canceled in-person classes at its middle school and high school due to “a high number of positive cases of COVID-19, associated close contacts, and classroom outbreaks.”

At the high school 19 students tested positive for COVID-19 with more cases suspected, the school district said. Another 300 students were identified as close contacts. About 1,000 attend the school.

Eighteen children in the middle school tested positive “with a couple more potential cases under investigation today and pending confirmation,” the district said.

Students at both schools are switching to online learning with a plan to return to in-person classes Wednesday, Sept. 22 at the high school and Thur., Sept. 23 at the middle school, as long as the situations improve by then.

“This time period keeps those students that are pre-symptomatic but infected from coming to school and further spreading the virus,” the school district said of its high school closure.

The two outbreaks in Northern York County School District come just over two weeks after administrators told parents they could decide whether their children should wear masks. On Aug. 24 the district approved a masks-optional policy, emails show.

On Sept. 10, the district changed the policy to require proof of a medical condition for students that did not wear a mask, according to PennLive.

Face coverings are a proven intervention for reducing the spread of viruses, but parents disagree on their use at schools. Aug. 31 the Pennsylvania Department of Health issued an order requiring masks at schools. State Republicans have since taken measures to oppose the order.

Submitted

Wendy Durika is the parent of a Northern York High School student.

Wendy Durika, whose son attends Northern York High School, said the changing policy reflects a community divided on public health measures such as masking and vaccines — leaving school administrators in a tough situation.

“I’m disheartened, not because they made the wrong decision or the right decision,” Durika said. “I’m disheartened because I was really optimistic going into this school year that the schools would be able to be a safe place for our students to learn in person.”

Other area school districts are experiencing COVID-19 case increases as well. South Western York School District reported 84 cases over the past two weeks, including 37 at its high school. Dover Area School District reported 31 cases across its schools.

Earlier this month, the Millersburg School District and Shippensburg Area School District middle school switched to online learning due to COVID-19.

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