Northern Lehigh superintendent asks Harrisburg to update COVID-19 threshold for closing schools

Written by on April 1, 2021

Northern Lehigh superintendent asks Harrisburg to update COVID-19 threshold for closing schools

By Chloe Nouvelle

April 1, 2021

Photo by CDC on Unsplash

The Wolf Administration on March 30 announced new rules for schools. Including changing the number of days K-12 buildings need to shut their doors after COVID cases are found. But the updated guidelines don’t reflect what local school leaders have been asking for.

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COVID cases have recently closed schools in Bethlehem, Catasauqua, and Northern Lehigh

New rules say they don’t have to stay closed for as long, in some cases just a day.  But the threshold or number of cases that close schools is mostly unchanged. 

Matt Link is the Northern Lehigh School District’s superintendent. He says for them it’s two cases. And he and others have been asking state leaders to change that.

“The threshold numbers that trigger it are too low, especially for small schools. I would like to see those numbers raised. Our contact tracing has shown that the transmission of the virus has not occurred in our school buildings,” Link says.

If the numbers stay the same, Link says, there will be a lot of pivoting back and forth between remote and hybrid models.

“It’s extremely disruptive to the teaching and learning process. It’s extremely disruptive to families,” he says. 

He’s not recommending the threshold be changed to a specific number. Instead, he’s asking for local control.

“I would like to see something put in place where we can we can work with our local department of health contacts to say, ‘Is it reasonable to keep the school building open, even if we have, you know, two cases, three cases, five cases,’” he says.

Link says he has yet to hear from Pennsylvania’s Department of Education about his request.

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