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Some York County school districts reset COVID-19 data after snow closures

Erin Bamer
York Dispatch
Spring Grove Area High School in Jackson Township, Tuesday, Oct. 30, 2018. Dawn J. Sagert photo

Some school districts in York County have taken a different approach to incorporating snow closures into the way they track COVID-19 cases. 

York Suburban School District, South Western School District, Spring Grove Area School District and West Shore School District reset their COVID-19 dashboards Monday to display zero cases across their buildings in the last 14 days following multiple snow days leading into last weekend. Ten other York County school districts still have cases recorded on their dashboards. 

Spring Grove Superintendent George Ioannidis said Department of Health officials approved their reset after the district's buildings closed because of snow and were thoroughly cleaned.

Kendall Alexander, spokesperson for the Pennsylvania Department of Education, said in an email that snow days are "not necessarily a component of closing schools as a mitigation strategy," but that snow days may overlap with school closures for COVID-19. She said cleaning is required during COVID-19 closures. 

Prior to the reset, Spring Grove Area High School had recorded a high number of COVID-19 cases within 14 days, but the school remained open Monday.

More:Snow days these days aren't what they used to be

The high school had recorded seven active COVID-19 cases since Feb. 8, according to district documents. In addition to the active cases, there were also four "not counted positive cases," bringing the total case count at the school to 11 in the last 14 days.

All York County school districts signed a form in November agreeing to comply with state COVID-19 regulations in order to keep their schools open. Part of the agreement mandates that school buildings must temporarily close and be cleaned when a certain number of positive cases are recorded within a 14-day period. 

A building the size of Spring Grove Area High School must close once it records six to 10 positive cases, according to the policy. Ioannidis said he interprets this policy to mean a school can remain open if its COVID-19 cases remain within that range. 

Ioannidis said he considers the circumstances of each positive case to determine if there is a risk of widespread transmission before he counts the case toward a closure. Other district officials have expressed similar reasons for keeping schools open when they apparently meet the threshold to temporarily close. 

Alexander said according to state policy, districts should close school buildings whenever its COVID-19 cases fall within the identified range based on its size. 

More:Susquehannock High School remains open despite high COVID-19 cases

More:COVID-19 tracking varies widely among York County schools

Five of the high school's seven active cases were reported with close contacts in the school, according to district documents. The four "not counted" cases represent individuals who were not in the school while they were infectious, according to the dashboard. 

When a positive case is linked to the building, Ioannidis said staff complete extra cleaning in the areas the individual visited, in addition to the cleaning that takes place on a nightly basis. 

"We feel good about the pre-emptive measures we're taking," Ioannidis said.