Breaking | Special meeting of Montgomery County Board of Health involves county schools

The Montgomery County Board of Health has scheduled a special meeting for Thursday, November 12th at 10:00 a.m.

On the agenda is the following item:

Montgomery County School Risk Reduction and Mitigation Order
Michel Masters, MPH, Division Director, Communicable Disease Control & Prevention

Please note, we have not seen the “order” and have no information on what it will say and what schools/grades, etc., it will impact. In the below paragraphs we report on what is being said by those involved in the process generally about schools and the pandemic and where the current numbers place Montgomery County in previously released guidance.

This potential “order” comes on the heels of an article today in The Philadelphia Inquirer in which David Rubin, director of the CHOP PolicyLab, called for schools to be closed (but operate virtually). Montgomery County utilized CHOP PolicyLab to craft its guidance on how schools should operate during the pandemic.

Over recent days, the number of cases of Coronavirus in Montgomery County is higher than it was during the initial height of the pandemic. The number of hospitalizations has also increased from in the 25 to 40 patient range just a month ago to 170 as of today. Deaths are also on a pace to increase over the past few months.

Prior to the school year, the Pennsylvania Department of Health issued guidance as to when schools should operate virtually and in hybrid models.

Pennsylvania Department of Health

When school went back into session in September, Montgomery County was below the 5% PCR Rate (third column above) but hovered above the incident rate (column two).

From Pennsylvania Department of Health. Chart reflects data on 11/11/20 at 12:30 p.m.

Over the past two weeks, both numbers have climbed and Montgomery County now falls fully within the “moderate” section of the guidance chart.

Under the “moderate” guidelines, schools are recommended to operate in a blended (hybrid) model or fully virtual. Most public schools in the county are currently operating in one of those two models. However, there are several that recently moved to the blended model or are planning to do so this month.

When the pandemic first hit, it was the state that ordered schools to shutter. However, on Monday, November 9th, the Pennsylvania Department of Health’s Dr. Rachel Levine stated during a press conference that the state did not intend to issue another statewide closure, but was encouraging some districts to go virtual.

More to come.

UPDATE – KYW Newsradio’s Jim Melwert has reported that the vote will be on whether to order schools to go all virtual for two weeks starting November 23rd. Listen to his report below.