Update (Friday): Closures at Cocalico, Columbia Borough, Penn Manor and Pequea Valley school districts were added since this story was originally published Tuesday.
At least 25 Lancaster County public schools are suspending in-person instruction through Thanksgiving with COVID-19 on the rise.
That's in addition to Manheim Township schools and Lancaster's Fulton Elementary School, which have already been scheduled to learn remotely through the holiday break.
Cocalico School District on Wednesday announced it would shift all students online next week due to an increasing amount of COVID-19 cases and quarantines. Students are expected to resume in-person instruction following the Thanksgiving break on Dec. 1.
"By providing an opportunity for students to learn remotely ... we will be creating a 10-day period without students in school," district Superintendent Ella Musser wrote in her update. "This is a necessary step to stop the risk of in-school COVID-19 transmission as an increasing number of students are exposed to the virus through community contacts (and then potentially expose others to the virus when they are in school)."
On Thursday, Columbia Borough School District announced all students would move to remote instruction through next Tuesday, the last day before Thanksgiving break.
Conestoga Valley High School is shifting to online instruction Wednesday, followed by the other five Conestoga Valley schools next Monday, district Superintendent Dave Zuilkoski stated in a letter to families Tuesday. All students are expected to return to in-person instruction Dec. 1.
The school district in the past week has reported three new positive cases of COVID-19 — two at Conestoga Valley High School and one at Huesken Middle School — in addition to several probable cases at the high school, middle school and Brownstown Elementary School.
Donegal High School, which has been closed since Monday, will also stick with remote instruction through Thanksgiving break, according to a letter Superintendent Michael Lausch sent to families Tuesday. Students are expected to return Dec. 1.
"The scope and impact of the most recent positive cases at DHS was significant, resulting in a high number of individuals in quarantine," Lausch said, adding that some of those in quarantine are already exhibiting COVID-19 symptoms.
Donegal Intermediate School, which was also temporarily closed this week due to a spike in cases, will resume in-person instruction Thursday as planned.
Eastern Lancaster County
Meanwhile, Eastern Lancaster County School District is extending remote learning at the Garden Spot secondary campus through Thanksgiving with an expected return to in-person learning Dec. 1.
In a letter to families Tuesday, Elanco Superintendent Bob Hollister said the district decided to extended the closure, which started Nov. 12 and has now been extended twice, because of new COVID-19 cases and a shortage of available faculty.
Four additional students at the secondary campus, which makes up Garden Spot High School and Garden Spot Middle School, have tested positive for COVID-19. There were 86 students in quarantine, according to Hollister's letter.
"More significantly, however, is the number of adults in the school operation who have either tested positive for COVID-19 or who are quarantined," Hollister said. "We simply do not have enough faculty substitutes."
Elizabethtown Area School District on Tuesday also announced its middle and high schools will continue learning remotely until Dec. 1.
In a post on its website, the district said it has 21 total active cases of COVID-19, including a new confirmed case each at Bear Creek School, the high school and middle school. The middle school also has two new presumptive cases.
Penn Manor School District also announced Tuesday that the high school will remain remote through at least Dec. 4.
High school students were expected to return to in-person instruction Wednesday after learning online since the week began.
District Superintendent Mike Leichliter said in a letter to families Tuesday that several new COVID-19 cases have impacted more than 200 students and 20 staff members at the high school, either because they're sick with COVID-19 or must quarantine. Those numbers are likely to increase as contact tracing continues, he said.
Some of the positive cases stemmed from "large social gatherings," Leichliter said.
"We are particularly concerned about the impact of gatherings over Thanksgiving break," he said, "and urge all of our community members to practice appropriate behavior in the face of this pandemic."
On Thursday, the district added Central Manor Elementary School to the list of closures through Thanksgiving. Students will resume in-person instruction Dec. 1.
Earlier this week, Pequea Valley School District announced it would suspend in-person learning districtwide the Monday and Tuesday before Thanksgiving in order to "slow down the potential spread of COVID-19 and allow the quarantined adults and learners the ability to return to in-person instruction" on Nov. 30.