Harriton High School gives student virtual option after COVID outbreak

District spokesperson says the 18 linked cases are connected to several sports teams and a club working on a production.
ROSEMONT, Pennsylvania (WPVI) -- Students at Harriton High School in the Lower Merion School District have the option of shifting to virtual learning until holiday break after an outbreak was reported.

"I think that's a great approach," remarked Harriton parent Martin Wan, whose daughter is a senior.

Contact tracing is underway, but so far Montgomery County health officials have identified 18 linked cases.

"Actually my daughter chose to go to school. She has been vaccinated, but she wants to go to the school," Wan added.

Lower Merion School District spokesperson Amy Buckman says the 18 linked cases are connected to several sports teams and a club working on a production.

RELATED: Several Philadelphia-area schools forced to go virtual due to COVID-19 protocols

All extracurricular activities this week have been suspended due to the outbreak.

"The teachers are going to be focusing on the students who are in class physically at Harriton High School. What they'll do is basically open up a Zoom link, and the students that are not coming into school will be able to observe the class via Zoom," explained Buckman.

Buckman says it's too early for the health and safety committee to determine the plan for students in January.

"They are pondering the concept of whether we should be offering virtual instruction either as an option or as the primary mode of instruction that first week after winter break, but we haven't made that decision yet. Everything is changing so quickly- especially with omicron - that it's very difficult to make a decision even two weeks out," Buckman said.

SEE ALSO: Finding your nearest COVID-19 testing site in Pennsylvania, New Jersey, and Delaware

Across the area, schools are monitoring cases.

In Chester County, the Downingtown Area School District COVID-19 Dashboard shows over the last two weeks, Downingtown Middle, East and West High schools have seen case totals in the double digits.

COVID spread is also being investigated in multiple Philadelphia schools.

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Schools across Philly region dealing with COVID outbreaks. George Solis reports for Action News at 11 on Dec. 20, 2021.

"We're not blind to the fact that numbers are going up, so right now we're just doing whatever we can to make sure that our mitigation efforts are upheld," said Monica Lewis, spokesperson for the School District of Philadelphia.

Six schools within the School District of Philadelphia went on a "pause" and switched to virtual learning.

The Philadelphia Department of Public Health puts a school on pause for 48 hours and then assesses how to move forward. Health officials then decide if they should quarantine the entire school, a class or a group of students.

When schools are put on pause or told to quarantine, they move studies to virtual learning.

Olney Charter High School, which is not part of the Philadelphia School District, moved to virtual learning Monday after school officials say 41 teachers called out in protest following the death of student Alayna Thach, 17, from COVID-19.

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