First Few COVID Cases Caught in SCASD

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(Photo/Maya Cienfuegos)

The empty SCAHS building the afternoon of Sept. 17 as schools across the district transition to remote learning. The empty school is a reminder of how COVID has impacted education worldwide.

Maya Cienfuegos, Staff Writer

As the Coronavirus outbreak continues to spread throughout the U.S., students, parents, and teachers of the State College Area School District(SCASD) have started to wonder how safe it really is to be in school. After one week, August 26 to September 3, of the hybrid in-person model, SCASD has gone fully remote. Despite this choice, on Sept. 14, teachers and parents were notified through an email sent out by Superintendent Bob O’Donnell that three students tested positive for COVID.

“Unfortunately, we’ve been notified today that our district has three COVID-19 positive cases among our students,” O’Donnell wrote. “We are now dealing with this virus on a more personal level, which really hits home.” 

O’Donnell informed SCASD that one out of three cases was a high school student who was learning remotely.  The other two are students who attend the Mount Nittany Elementary school. Another case was confirmed in the Young Scholars Charter School, but there is no further information about this patient. 

When asked how the news of these positive cases has altered our school dynamic, the State High Principal Curtis Johnson replied, “It has heightened the awareness for our student[s], that our community is not immune to this virus and that there continues to be a need for these safety protocols.” 

If there is one thing that students need to understand, it is the fact that SCASD is not resistant to COVID. Since both grade and college schools have been opened, SCASD and Penn State University have been hit hard with the virus. 

“We need students to adhere to the big three safety protocols: Wear a mask, abide by the physically distancing guidelines, and wash your hands frequently,” Johnson said. “We also encourage students to avoid social gatherings where these things are not being adhered to.”  

The growing number of COVID cases are additionally worrisome to alumnus and family of the SCASD students. Penn State junior, Lauren Conklin spoke about the risk of in-person school. 

“If they make kids go back to school in person,” Conklin said, “that is just allowing more children to be put at risk and spread it to their families and friends. I do not think that opening schools were ever a smart idea because there just isn’t a safe way to have so many kids together.” 

Conklin has two sisters, both in 4th grade at Young Scholars where the first COVID case in the district was spotted. These two girls struggle with multiple disabilities. 

“My little sisters are in that school district,” Conklin said, “so it is very scary knowing had they not been online, they would’ve been at risk with all their mental health conditions.”   

The COVID outbreak alone is stressful enough to handle. The three cases in SCASD are the tense beginning of the biggest wave of the virus that State College has seen. 

“We understand this is a troubling time for many students, but through our precautions and adhering to safety protocols we will get through this pandemic together as safely as possible.” 

These first COVID cases in the SCASD will impact all future plans for going back to in-person school. Nothing is certain about the next few months of school except for the fact that the number of COVID cases will continue to grow. 

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