Susquehannock High School remains open despite high COVID-19 cases

Erin Bamer
York Dispatch
Susquehannock High School in Glen Rock, Tuesday, Feb. 5, 2019. Dawn J. Sagert photo

Despite recording high COVID-19 cases on its district website, Susquehannock High School's doors remained open. 

According to Southern York County School District's website, the district had recorded 25 cases across its six buildings over the previous 14 days, with 14 recorded at the high school as of Tuesday night. 

Superintendent Sandra Lemmon said the dashboard records the total number of cases linked to each school, but there are actually only four cases of individuals who were contagious within the high school during the last 14 days, which is not enough to close. The remaining cases are individuals who contracted COVID-19 outside the building and have not entered the building since, Lemmon said. 

The district is currently operating all schools under a hybrid schedule. Susquehannock High School officials confirmed the building was still open to students. 

In a letter to parents, Lemmon said Pennsylvania Department of Health officials have not advised the district to close any buildings.

All York County school districts, including Southern York County, signed a form in November agreeing to comply with several state guidelines in order to keep their schools open. 

According to the guidance, a school the size of Susquehannock High School should close for at least 14 days if 11 or more cases are recorded in the building within a 14-day period. A building the same size that records six to 10 cases in 14 days is instructed to close for at least three days. 

"Please know that we will be following these guidelines," district officials said on their website. 

At least three other York County school districts did not immediately close schools this year after recording enough COVID-19 cases to warrant a closure. In all three cases, however, officials eventually did close the buildings. 

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Kendall Alexander, press secretary for the Pennsylvania Department of Education, said in an email that possible violations to the attestation form are "handled on a case-by-case basis," and at minimum state officials will discuss the issue with the district. She did not mention a maximum measure the department would reach to enforce the policy. 

"The health and safety of students is the responsibility of school administrators and locally elected school boards," Alexander said in the email. "That responsibility existed before the pandemic, and that remains the same now with the additional mitigation requirements."