As the number of COVID-19 cases increases in its buildings, the Carlisle Area School District is working with a pharmacy to schedule a community vaccination clinic as soon as possible.
The goal is to host a clinic on a school campus from 4 to 7 p.m. weekdays and again on Saturday mornings, Acting Superintendent Patricia Sanker said at a school board meeting Thursday.
The district will publicize the clinic when the dates are finalized, she said. “We will bring the pharmacy back in three weeks when the second round of vaccines is due.”
Sanker said participation is voluntary.
“Anyone in the community can attend,” she said. “Parents can bring their children and, if the parents have not been vaccinated, they are welcome to the vaccines. If someone hasn’t gotten their reminder and still needs to get it, you’ll be able to access it on campus.
“This is a proactive move to try to lower our numbers,” Sanker said. “We can’t believe we’re getting numbers like this. We hope that our parents will accept this offer and bring your children to be vaccinated. We haven’t reached our peak [of COVID cases] in this area. We have proof. »
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COO Eric Sands provided an overview of COVID-19 statistics. As of Thursday, there were 635 positive cases among students and staff attending district schools.
Broken down by month, there were 98 cases in September, 65 cases in October, 68 cases in November, 144 cases in December and 256 cases so far in January, with seven investigation days remaining in the month.
The district reported 262 total cases during the entire 2020-2021 school year, when most instruction took place in a hybrid model of two days in class and three days at home via the Internet.
As the district’s pandemic response coordinator, Sands has tracked the cumulative number of cases day by day since Aug. 16, when teachers returned to school for in-service professional development.
On September 30, Carlisle had 100 cases. By November 10, that number had doubled to 200. Less than a month later, on December 20, Carlisle had 300 cases. From there, the number of cases increased dramatically.
By January 4, the day after students returned from vacation, the number had reached 400 cases. A week later, on January 11, it was 500 cases. Three days later, on January 14, the district reached 600 positive cases of COVID-19.
Since the start of the school year, Carlisle has been forced to temporarily close nine classrooms to in-person instruction due to the rate of positive cases. Affected students have moved from in-person to virtual instruction for at least one school day.
Four of the nine closures occurred in January at Hamilton Elementary School, including three involving kindergarten classes and a grade one class. There were two December closures involving kindergarten classes at Crestview Elementary School and one December closure involving a third-grade class at North Dickinson Elementary School. LeTort Elementary School had two classroom closures — a kindergarten class in mid-October and a first-grade class in early November.
On Jan. 13, the district sent a message to staff members and families notifying them of the Jan. 14 closure of four elementary school buildings – Bellaire, Mooreland, Mount Holly Springs and North Dickinson.
“The Carlisle Area School District has experienced a significant increase in active COVID cases,” the notice reads. “The percentage of positive cases moved four elementary schools above the 5% closure threshold as designated by the Pennsylvania Department of Health.”
Instead of in-person instruction, the four schools held an asynchronous (non-zoom) learning day similar to a snow day held on January 7. The intention was to resume in-person teaching in all four buildings on January 18.
Universal masking will continue to be a requirement in Carlisle area schools. The district could make masks optional if the positivity rate among students and staff drops to a consistent pattern of 2% or less, Sands said. “Our case count reflects what is happening in the community.”
The district will continue to rely on guidance from state agencies and the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Sands said. “The CDC and [state Department of Health] still recommends that all individuals wear masks indoors in public in an area of significant or high community transmission.
With an infection rate of about 1,255 cases per 100,000 people, the Carlisle area is well below the threshold for requiring universal masking, Sands said.
On Thursday, Sands received a message from the Cumberland County Department of Public Safety advising district administrators that the number of holiday gathering cases will continue to rise over the next two to three weeks. “I hope not, but that’s what the experts are telling us,” Sands said.
“Additionally, all age groups are showing up in the healthcare system for inpatient treatment,” Sands said. “Hospitals in the region are reported at or above capacity. Tests are rare. We must work together, support each other, and maintain hope and resilience to get through this ordeal.
Email Joseph Cress at [email protected]