Garnet Valley Middle School switching to virtual for rest of the week due to COVID cases

GLEN MILLS, Pennsylvania (WPVI) -- Garnet Valley Middle School is returning to all virtual learning Tuesday through the end of the week due to an increasing number of positive COVID cases.

The middle school has had 18 cases in 12 days, including five new cases that were recently discovered.

Dr. Marc Bertrando, the district superintendent, sent out a note to the school community saying, "Although we are not aware of linked transmission in school, the new cases that were brought to our attention span three grade levels."
The decision for students to stay home for the remainder of the week should help stop the spread, the superintendent said.

"This decision allows us to mitigate the continued increase in probable or positive individuals who are in attendance during their contagious period, which will also lessen the opportunity for transmission within the school," said Dr. Bertrando.

In his note, the superintendent explained why the district decided to switch to virtual for the week.

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"Based on the time of day and our contact tracing responsibilities, which require us to analyze student and teacher schedules, review class rosters and seating charts, check bus ridership, determine those who meet the close contact criteria and then communicate with those families all before the start of school tomorrow, it became apparent that reverting to virtual learning for the remainder of the week was necessary," said Dr. Bertrando.

The middle school plans to return to in-person learning on May 3.

"We understand the inconvenience and frustration that many families will have as a result of returning to virtual learning for the remainder of the week. However, please know that we continue to balance students' need to be in school with what is prudent from a health and safety perspective," Dr. Bertrando said.

Read the complete note from Dr. Marc Bertrando, Superintendent of Garnet Valley School District:

Dear School Community,

Positive COVID cases have increased at Garnet Valley Middle School, and this afternoon we learned of five new occurrences. Although we are not aware of linked transmission in school, the new cases that were brought to our attention span three grade levels. Based on the time of day and our contact tracing responsibilities, which require us to analyze student and teacher schedules, review class rosters and seating charts, check bus ridership, determine those who meet the close contact criteria and then communicate with those families all before the start of school tomorrow, it became apparent that reverting to virtual learning for the remainder of the week was necessary. This decision allows us to mitigate the continued increase in probable or positive individuals who are in attendance during their contagious period, which will also lessen the opportunity for transmission within the school.

Additionally, due to the fact that the middle school has had 18 cases in 12 days, determining close contacts is becoming increasingly difficult. When this scenario occurs, the risk of transmission within a community can be difficult to determine. Again, it is for these reasons that we are exercising an abundance of caution and closing the school for the remainder of the week.

We understand the inconvenience and frustration that many families will have as a result of returning to virtual learning for the remainder of the week. However, please know that we continue to balance students' need to be in school with what is prudent from a health and safety perspective. As always, we implore the school community to maintain health precautions even as more and more individuals get vaccinated. Without a strong community commitment, these types of interruptions in students' in-person learning could continue. I understand that parents will have questions about incidences in our other schools, so I've included our current COVID-19 Data Sheet. This information is updated daily and reflects the number of cases in each school.

I realize that many middle school parents will have questions regarding the PSSA testing and other schedule-related questions, and Dr. Stenz will be in touch with the middle school families to update them with specific information regarding schedules and other details.

Sincerely,

Dr. Marc Bertrando, Superintendent
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