COVID-19 cases slow to a crawl in York County schools

Erin Bamer
York Dispatch
Students return to school for the first time in six months at York Suburban Middle School, Wednesday, August 19, 2020. Sixth and ninth grade students started a day earlier than the rest of the district due to moving up to bigger schools.
John A. Pavoncello photo

After months of frequent school closures across York County, COVID-19 cases in local schools have slowed down to a trickle. 

It's been about three weeks since the last known school closure due to COVID-19, when Northern Middle School closed on May 18 after recording four cases. This is a stark contrast to March and April, when school closures were almost a daily occurrence across the county. 

More:Northern Middle School closed Tuesday due to COVID-19

More:As COVID-19 cases drop and restrictions relax, health officials remain concerned

The fewer cases line up with the decline of COVID-19 cases across the entirety of the county. According to the state Department of Education, York County's transmission level dropped from substantial to moderate as of May 14. This drop meant that local school districts no longer have to comply with state recommendations for when to close schools. 

West York Area School District nurse Cindy Rose attributed the lower case numbers to vaccinations. More than 2,300 York County school employees received the COVID-19 vaccine in March through a state initiative, and Rose said some older students at West York have also been vaccinated, leading to the slower spread. As the weather gets warmer, Rose said increasing outdoor activities also contributes to less frequent transmission. 

More:York Suburban schools lift face mask requirement for fully vaccinated individuals

More:State to lift COVID-19 requirements on school closures, event limitations starting May 31

While some schools are still recording the occasional individual COVID-19 case, several districts have not recorded any recent cases. A handful of districts have even removed COVID-19 tracking information from their websites. Dallastown and Spring Grove removed their COVID-19 data dashboards last week, and Red Lion removed its COVID-19 information page earlier in May. 

Other districts are relaxing their safety protocols in response to the fewer cases. York Suburban recently lifted its mask mandate for fully vaccinated individuals, while Northern York County lifted its mask mandate for outdoor areas. 

These decisions fall in line with the state removing most of its COVID-19 requirements for schools on Monday, although the state's mask mandate remain in place for now.