PITTSBURGH (KDKA) – Statewide coronavirus numbers are breaking records. At the same time, school districts are reporting more and more cases.
“It’s getting worse and worse. I don’t know how they are going to control that, but maybe people will finally start wearing masks and start listening and they can get it under control,” said Pittsburgh resident Ralph Zielmanski.
Many schools are closing and going online because of coronavirus cases. Mars Area High School is shutting down through Dec. 1, Central Catholic is closed on Thursday, Beaver Area School District is closing all district buildings until Dec. 1 and Avonworth School District is closing all buildings Nov. 12-24.
For North Hills School District, the COVID-19 tracker reports 21 active cases, but students remain in the building. Why? Administrators told KDKA the cases aren’t being traced back to the schools, rather it’s community transmission.
At McKeesport, the numbers are much lower and students are in the classroom five days a week.
“Transmission in schools have been kind of non-existent so that’s been very fortunate for us, so we’ve been through this process, over the last 22 days, we’ve only had two positive COVID cases,” said McKeesport School Superintendent Dr. Mark Holtzman.
On Wednesday, Allegheny County as a whole broke records with 366 new positive cases.
“I think that’s always going to be a challenge when it comes to families and circumstances. Teenagers or young people spending time together outside of school, I don’t think you are ever going to eliminate that,” Holtzman said.
The Pennsylvania Department of Education bases its metric system on community transmission, not the number of cases in schools.
The latest data recommends Lawrence and Armstrong counties go fully remote. Up in the air are Butler and Mercer counties. The numbers are ticking up for both, and if community transmission continues, the state will make the same recommendation on Friday.
As for Allegheny, Beaver, Washington, Fayette and Westmoreland counties, things are still going smoothly for schools there.
“The masking and social distancing — we’ve been able to sustain a real solid model and we have our challenges and tomorrow could bring several cases, but for now we’ve done quite well,” Holtzman said.
Ultimately the decision to go fully remote will come from each local school district.