The Hollidaysburg Area School District in Blair County is moving its junior and senior high to totally virtual learning Monday as COVID-19 cases in the community increase.
More than 130 Hollidaysburg senior high school students are in quarantine. At the junior high, about 100 are after being in close contact with someone who tested positive for the coronavirus.
Superintendent Bob Gildea says teachers had already been managing hybrid learning — half of students were in-person and half remote on a given day. Add to that students in quarantine.
“It’s like juggling three balls and trying to keep everyone moving forward and learning. And it was determined this week that the most logical thing to do is just take a step back, go to a virtual platform, so that the teachers can then deliver instruction to all of them together," Gildea said.
The district has seen about 30 cases of COVID-19, with the number going up in the past week.
"As the COVID cases in the community have grown, the COVID cases in our schools have increased proportionately," Gildea said.
Pennsylvania has been seeing a surge in coronavirus cases in some rural counties where numbers had been relatively low. According to the state Department of Health, Blair County had 2,290 known cases of COVID-19 as of Friday. The number of cases has more than tripled since the beginning of October.
In response to that increase, the state is opening a testing clinic at the Blair County Convention Center on Sunday.
Gildea hopes Hollidaysburg junior and senior high schools can return to hybrid classes after Thanksgiving.
“Hopefully, the kids will make good decisions and limit their cohort of contact over the holiday, limit that to just families, be smart and everybody comes back healthy December 1st, and we can make it through the next three weeks leading up to Christmas break without any issues," he said.
The district’s elementary schools remain in hybrid learning mode.