Published On: Mon, Nov 16th, 2020

New Hope-Solebury caught in between state, county on whether to close schools

Pennsylvania and Bucks County health officials can’t agree on whether schools should switch to all-virtual learning, and New Hope-Solebury is caught in the middle.

Pennsylvania Department of Education officials have recommended that schools move to online-only teaching because the county is now in its second week of “substantial” rates of covid-19 infection.

The threshold for being identified at the “substantial” level according to the Pennsylvania Department of Health is having an incident rate at or over 100, or a positive rate at or greater than 10%.

Bucks currently has a 221.4 infection rate per 100,000 residents, up from 106.7 last week, and a 9.5% positivity rate, up from 6.2% last week.

But the Bucks County Department of Health (BCDOH) on Nov. 11 “unconditionally recommended” that school districts not stop in-person learning.

“The current data indicates that, because of our strong school health and safety plans, children and teachers are safe in our schools, even when there are many cases in the community,” BCDOH told school districts. “All studies indicate that in-person learning is the best model for effective learning – our schools have proven to be a safe and structured environment where this can occur.”

Because of the wide gap between recommendations from county and state officials, New Hope-Solebury School District (NHSSD) is having to make its own decisions on what’s best for students, teachers and the community. The district is holding steady for now on giving students a choice between in-person and remote learning, but that could change at any time.

“Unfortunately, there continue to be differences of opinion within the health community in the action schools should take regarding the increase of infections, making decisions about closing schools more challenging,” observed New Hope-Solebury Superintendent of Schools Dr. Charles W. Lentz in a letter to parents Monday. “We are continuing to review our instructional plans considering the current data to determine if any changes are needed.”

Further complicating matters is the decision to close schools from Nov. 23 to Dec. 6 in Montgomery County, where a substantial number of NHSSD teachers and staff reside.

“We will continue to monitor this situation and will reassess if there is a rise in cases in our school district or community at large and will discuss this matter at the Board meeting this Thursday evening,” said Lentz.

Cases of covid in New Hope Borough remain at less than 10, but the number of Solebury Township cases moved up to 11 in recent days.

A new study conducted by The Washington Post examining some 10,000 school districts across the country found essentially no connection between covid-19 case rates and decisions regarding schools. Rather, politics is shaping the decisions, according to the The Post.

“The two main factors that determined whether a school district opened in-person were the level of support in the district for Donald Trump in 2016 and the strength of teachers’ unions,” the Post said.

 

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Displaying 6 Comments
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  1. mband2008@comcast.net' Melvin Band says:

    It seems that just about every day a new directive comes down from the state. From the state’s top doctor, Rachel Levine, according to the New Hope Solebury School District all intramural and school interscholastic athletic indoor events will now require masks for the athletes. Just imagine two basketball kids going up for rebound with their hands going for the ball but instead having their fingers entangled in their opponents face mask strings. Real genius.

  2. mband2008@comcast.net' Melvin Band says:

    The New Hope Solebury School District Community, including myself, received an email today from Supt. Charles Lentz who stated, ” We have been informed that a student or staff member at the Middle School has been diagnosed with Covid -19. This person was on the school premises on Nov. 10, [ last Tuesday] 2020.and did have direct exposure with other members of our community.
    Last Thursday, Nov. 12th I attended a virtual school board committee Facilities meeting via Zoom wherein I asked the chairman how many positive cases, if any have been reported since March for out school district . While Supt.Lentz answered other questions related to Covid 19 , he did not answer mine. So much for transparency. Followers NOT leaders.

  3. When will these idiots who keep harping on “cases” and “safety” actually start to be concerned about actual safety? School kids’ cases poses zero incremental health risk…not statistically zero, just ZERO Covid risk. You want to talk about health risk? Let’s talk about loneliness and isolation, drug abuse, depression. Those are the older kids. Let’s talk about the psyches of 8 year olds who have heard a 9 month drumbeat telling them that being near other 8 year olds will kill them and their parents. Let’s talk about ALL kids K thru 12 being deprived of an education. The election is over…you don’t need to do this anymore!

  4. mishsumi@gmail.com' Mike S says:

    The county health department reporting is no longer credible. Their reporting of a 7 day average of 27 cases doesn’t square with other sources including the NYT showing average daily cases of 252. Even Johns Hopkins is showing 13,050 cumulative cases while the county is reporting 11,549. What benefit is there from marginalizing a the health and death consequence of a pandemic ?? Why has the county taken the position that it will only update it’s web site twice per week ? They don’t want you to know how bad it is. STAY HOME. WEAR A MASK.

  5. Correction: the Lambertville total of 37 is cumulative since April. In the past two weeks, there have been 3-4 new cases. I check the stats daily.

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