2 Delaware elementary schools close as COVID-19 cases spike statewide
Two Red Clay elementary schools have closed for the week, the latest in a string of temporary school closures this semester due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
Delaware – and most of the U.S. – is seeing a pronounced spike in cases – on Sunday, state health officials reported 318 new cases, the most in a single day since May 15. Hospitalizations are in the triple digits as well, with 119 hospitalized and 27 in critical condition.
The COVID-19 increases come just as more kids are in school buildings. Since mid-October, schools that began the year virtually have made the transition to hybrid learning, getting kids in the classroom for at least a few days each week.
Red Clay began a contentious transition to hybrid learning at the end of October. This week was supposed to be the first full week of hybrid learning for all students who had selected that option.
The temporary closures at Richardson Park and North Star elementary schools were not related to widespread cases, the district said. Rather, "key personnel" were needing to quarantine, which would have "drastically [impacted] the operations of the building," staff were told in an email Sunday.
"As a result of this positive case, critical staff members at [both schools] must be quarantined," said Taylor Green, spokeswoman for the district. "This impacted our ability to open for in-person learning today."
“This is a result of Department of Public Health quarantine requirements of key personnel that will drastically impact the operations of the building,” staff were told in an email Sunday night.
The district would not release any more details about what role that person played in the building because of privacy concerns.
School closures this year started in Woodbridge School District, where an undisclosed number of cases at Woodbridge High School caused the school to close for two weeks in October, as well as canceling all sports before the football season had even begun.
A two-day precautionary closure for deep cleaning at Sussex Technical High School turned into an additional week of remote work last week after a staff member and student tested positive.
As of Nov. 6, 63 public school students and 110 staff had tested positive for COVID-19 since Sept. 1. In private schools, 78 students and 40 staff have tested positive.
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So far, statewide numbers continue to allow schools to stick with hybrid learning models.
Depending on how COVID-19 cases in Delaware progress, the state could implement new restrictions if advised by public health experts, said Jonathan Starkey, spokesman for Gov. John Carney.
“We know what works,” Starkey said. “Wear a mask. Socially distance. Avoid gatherings. Wash your hands frequently.”
Natalia Alamdari covers education for The News Journal. You can reach her at (302) 324-2312 or email@example.com.