In a letter sent to families on Monday, Gary Buchsen, superintendent of the Port Allegany School District, informed parents that Port Allegany High School would be closing for in-person instruction from today until Thursday after they were notified of two positive cases of COVID-19 in students.

“Tomorrow, students in grades 7-12 should log on to their classes at their regular times,” Buchsen explained. “Teachers in the high school will be instructing remotely from their classrooms.”

Through contract tracing protocol, the district identified the students who have had likely contact with any individuals who tested positive and notified families accordingly. Families not contacted by the end of the school day Monday do not have a child in close contact with anyone who tested positive.

Buchsen explained that prior to Dec. 1, 2020, school districts in Pennsylvania were required to submit an “Attestation Form Ensuring Implementation of Mitigation Efforts” to the Pennsylvania Department of Education. This allowed the school district to maintain daily in-person instruction in both the high school and elementary school. In signing the attestation, the schools are required to follow the “Recommendations for Pre-K to 12 Schools Following a Case(s) of COVID-19,” requiring school closure of in-person learning, “depending on the size of the school building and the rolling 14-day average of COVID-19 cases in students and/or staff from that building.”

Mandated closure periods could last between three and 14 days.

Due to the positive cases and the 14-day average within the building, the high school was required to temporarily close.

“The health, safety and well-being of our school community remains our top priority,” said Buchsen. “We are following sound protocols aligned with expert health guidance to ensure we are doing everything we can to protect your health. We also want to take this opportunity to remind everyone of the importance of wearing masks, staying six feet apart from others and regularly washing your hands.”

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