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Northeastern confirms intermediate school staffer has COVID-19

The first phase of a nearly $100 million high school renovation is now expected to cost $2 million more than originally expected due to the addition of ten science labs for classes including this chemistry classroom.
Wednesday, March 4, 2020.
John A. Pavoncello photo

Northeastern School District's superintendent said one of its staff members has tested positive for COVID-19.

The staff member works at Spring Forge Intermediate School but has not been in the building this week, Superintendent Stacey Sidle said in a message sent to parents Wednesday.

This marked the second case in a York County school district in less than 24 hours — South Western reported a positive case in its high school Wednesday.

“We have been advised to notify any person who may have been exposed while in the building and advise them to quarantine for 14 days,” Sidle said.

Northeastern High School superintendent Dr. Stacey Sidle congratulates graduate Jared Holmes after presenting him his diploma, Sunday, May 31, 2020.
John A. Pavoncello photo

Thursday was the first day of school at Northeastern. The district had an in-person reopening and a cyber option. 

Northeastern joins a number of districts and schools in the county that opened their buildings to students this week.

Twelve had opened as of Wednesday, and Central York plans to open Friday.

More:South Western confirms COVID-19 case at high school

More:Where they stand now: York County school reopening plans 2020

That district, along with Northeastern, was among those that almost scrapped plans for an in-person reopening in favor of starting the year virtually.

Pressure from many parents to give their child at least a day or two in school outweighed fears from others that in-school instruction while the county falls under moderate community spread just wasn't safe.

Moderate spread means more than 10 in 100,000 people tested positive, or the infection rate was 5% or higher — leading the governor to recommend hybrid or online-only models for schools.

Central York's teachers union called its district's plan to reopen in person unsafe and likely to fail, and South Western's union also expressed concerns.

More:Central, Northeastern wrangle with reopening, mandates days before doors open

More:Central teachers union: Reopening doomed to fail

Yet, despite a couple of school-related cases in the county so far, most schools started the year in the past two weeks without incident.

Sidle said the state Department of Health will complete all contact tracing and will provide additional direction to both the confirmed case as well as to anyone identified as a close contact. 

“Due to self-monitoring of symptoms, we were able to quickly isolate the suspected case prior to testing results, and then subsequently, to quickly quarantine any close contact once a positive result was received,” she said. 

Sidle said the district will continue to monitor students and staff for any suspected or confirmed COVID-19 cases. 

State Department of Health officials would not say Thursday whether the department would step in with its own reporting if cases spiraled out of control — as notification is currently done by districts — but that they are working on data for school-aged children.

Data on how COVID-19 affects children has been largely absent so far, with some citing experts who say children are less at risk than adults.

However, the American Academy of Pediatrics recently reported that there was a 21% increase in child cases over the two weeks between Aug. 6 and Aug. 20.

— Ron Musselman can be reached at rmusselman@yorkdispatch.com or via Twitter at @ronmusselman8.