PITTSBURGH -- Superintendent Dr. Patrick J. Mannarino spoke about the district’s successful shift to the Hybrid before discussing current Allegheny County case counts and state guidance used for determining when NHSD might consider moving from Hybrid to a traditional, 5-day a week in-person model at Thursday’s school board meeting.
"I think we’re going to be in Hybrid for quite a while and that’s just me being realistic," he told board members.
Dr. Mannarino pointed to the county’s Community Transmission Rate, which remains moderate as it has since the end of July. Per Pennsylvania Department of Education guidance, when a county is moderate, hybrid or full virtual operating models are recommended for school districts.
A traditional model isn’t recommended until a county’s Community Transmission Rate is low and the threshold for low is less than 10 cases per 100,000 residents over the most recent seven-day period with a percent positivity rate below five percent. For the last week, Allegheny County has averaged 40 to 50 cases per 100,000 residents and a seven to eight percent positivity rate.
In addition, most NHSD classrooms are not large enough to get desks six feet apart at full capacity and cafeterias continue to pose the biggest problem because they are not large enough to accommodate all students six feet apart while eating without masks on.
Dr. Mannarino also spoke about the Allegheny County Health Department’s role when there is a confirmed COVID-19 case in the district. The health department handles all contract tracing and also determines who must quarantine. Quarantining students or staff members is not a school district function.
The Allegheny County Health Department also makes the determination as to if a school must shut down and for how long. While Pennsylvania Department of Education guidance is considered, having two confirmed cases in the same school building, when the Community Transmission Rate is moderate, does not automatically equate to a 5-7 day shutdown as the guidance states.
Several factors would be considered including whether the cases are connected and if the district served as a contributing factor to the spread of cases.
"[The health department] would begin to close us if those cases are linked or a result of each other,” Dr. Mannarino explained. “If they are not, there is a good chance we wouldn’t get shut down."
Watch his full remarks below. View his complete presentation here.