PHILADELPHIA (WPVI) -- Several schools in the Philadelphia area have temporarily switched to virtual learning due to COVID-19 cases in their buildings.
At Emlen Elementary on the 6500 block of Chew Avenue in East Mount Airy Tuesday morning, some parents were picking up laptops from a school district van parked out front.
The School District of Philadelphia said Emlen Elementary will close for over a week for deep cleaning.
"If your child shared a classroom with any student or staff member who has tested positive for COVID-19, you will be contacted directly by the PDPH and/or the School District with important information, including the need for your child to quarantine," the school district said.
The school notified families on Monday that all students, whether in quarantine or not, would need to shift to online learning due to positive COVID cases.
Emlen Elementary School is set to reopen on September 24.
"They told us yesterday that they have 10 COVID-positive cases," said parent Christopher James.
Parents are now making alternate arrangements.
"They sent us a text and told us that the situation - that they were going to have to go virtual for two weeks," said parent Paul Brown.
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Lindley Academy Charter School at Birney is also operating virtually until next week.
"Lindley Academy Charter School will be moving to 100% virtual learning. At this time, there are six confirmed cases of COVID-19 in the Lindley Community. Guidance from the health department is that we move to a virtual learning environment immediately. Virtual learning will begin on Friday, September 9, 2021. Students will return to in-person learning on Monday, September 20, 2021," a letter by the school's CEO Margery Covello read.
Their Facebook page pointed out to families that Lindley's zip code, 19141, has one of the lowest vaccination rates in Philadelphia.
"According to the Philadelphia Health Department, less than 1/2 of the eligible residents of 19141 are fully vaccinated. Vaccinations are a critical component of slowing the spread of COVID in communities," the message read.
On Sunday, former FDA commissioner and current Pfizer board member Dr. Scott Gottlieb said its vaccine could be available for emergency use in children ages 5 to 11 as early as Halloween.
The CDC's current director has said she hopes that group will be able to be vaccinated by the end of the year.
According to data released by the state health department, school-aged children in Pennsylvania are becoming infected with coronavirus at much greater rates than at this time last year.
Nearly 5,400 children between the ages of 5 and 18 tested positive in the first week of September, that's almost 10 times as the same timeframe in 2020. Keep in mind, health officials said they can't pinpoint where children were exposed to COVID, meaning it wasn't necessarily in school or daycare.
Bethlehem Area School District Superintendent Dr. Joseph Roy said Miller Heights Elementary began the year with the district's strictest COVID-19 mitigation protocols in place, but two weeks later, students are back home. Roy said there isn't a magic number that triggers a closure.
"It's where the cases are, what classrooms, do we see connections, how many close contacts," Roy said. "A holistic view that says, 'let's take a break here.' We can put a break in any potential transmission, just keep people away from each other."
In Philadelphia, there have been more than 1,100 cases in school-aged children since mid-August.
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