CAMBRIDGE SPRINGS — Cambridge Springs Junior/Senior High School is closed until next week because of mounting COVID-19 cases, PENNCREST School District announced Monday.
The closure, which also includes the cancellation of all after-school activities and athletics, will last until next Monday.
According to the school district, positive cases of COVID-19 have exceeded 7 percent of the total school population. Pennsylvania Department of Health guidelines recommend an extended closure once cases exceed 5 percent over a 15-day period, and the decision to close the school was made after consultation with the department.
The school has 405 students enrolled in grades seven through 12. It would take 29 cases to put the school above the 7 percent threshold.
Students are required to participate in virtual learning until the school is reopened, and must log into Google Classroom daily. Cambridge Springs students are not permitted to attend the Crawford County Career and Technical Center during the closure.
In addition to the mounting cases, Superintendent Timothy Glasspool, in a letter announcing the closure, said there are two cases among students without "other identified epidemiological linkages," and seven staff members who have either tested positive or are currently in quarantine.
Once students and staff return to school next Monday, all will be required to wear masks as required under the Aug. 31 order from Acting Secretary of Health Alison Beam unless they have a documented section 3.B exemption. This requirement extends to visitors to the school as well.
PENNCREST is experiencing a sharp jump in cases at the start of the new school year. In a separate letter sent out Monday, Glasspool said the school district has 70 laboratory-confirmed positive COVID-19 cases.
"Last year, we had a total of 155 laboratory-confirmed positive COVID-19 cases," Glasspool wrote. "We are on track to exceed this number by Halloween."
The superintendent reminded parents that students, staff and visitors must all wear masks per the state order.
"Masks and the lawfulness of face-coverings is contentious," he wrote. "Sides are polarized and our students are caught in the middle. Regardless of personal, political, medical or legal beliefs, the district must continue to enforce this order."
Glasspool said the Pennsylvania Departments of Health and Education have begun to push for "school exclusion" for people not complying with the masking order. He asked for "unity and cooperation" to keep instruction in-person for the rest of the school year.
All members and staff of the Cambridge Springs Junior-Senior High School cheerleading and soccer teams who attended a Sept. 8 practice have been identified as close contacts to a positive COVID-19 case.
Kylene Koper, principal of the school, announced the close contacts in another letter published on Monday.
"We were notified that both teams have multiple individuals who are COVID positive," she wrote. "Both teams are quarantined through Sunday, September 19th."
According to a post on the school district's Facebook page, six staff members and 11 students at Cambridge Springs Junior-Senior High School tested positive for COVID-19 last week by Friday.
Delay at CASH
Conneaut Area Senior High students had a two-hour delay Monday.
Conneaut School District posted on its Facebook page that the delay happened because of "too many bus drivers testing positive over the weekend and not enough substitutes to replace the regular drivers."
Superintendent Jarrin Sperry said the high school will be delayed through Friday.
"We are doing a one-hour delay the rest of the week so that we can use the bus drivers that we have available," he said.
Crawford Central School District's COVID-19 cases
For the week ending Sept. 10
Total cases: 17
Meadville Area Senior High School: 11
Meadville Area Middle School: 2
Cochranton Junior-Senior High School: 1
Second District Elementary School: 2
West End Elementary School: 1
PENNCREST School District
For the week ending Sept. 10
Staff/student positive tests
Cambridge Springs Elementary: 1/2
Cambridge Springs Jr.-Sr. High: 6/11
Maplewood Elementary: 0/1
Maplewood Junior-Senior High: 3/7
Saegertown Elementary: 1/5
Saegertown Junior-Senior High: 0/2
PENNCREST Cyber Academy, Central Office and other: 2/0
Note: Conneaut School District statistics were not available