School closing COVID-19

A school bus leaves Mountville Elementary School at the end of the school day Friday, March 13, 2020. 

Two weeks after it welcomed back students for in-person learning, Fulton Elementary School in Lancaster is closed again. 

The 387-student school on West Orange Street will be closed through Thanksgiving break to prevent further spread of COVID-19 after a student tested positive. Students will learn remotely until Nov. 30, when students in prekindergarten to fifth grade return to a blended model of instruction.

In an email to families Tuesday, the School District of Lancaster said two of the COVID-19-positive student's siblings are also presumed positive, so they are in quarantine. Other close contacts are being notified individually. 

This is the first case at Fulton Elementary School this fall, according to a new online dashboard that shows the number of cases, both active and cumulative, at each school. 

No other school is affected by the closure. 

The school district's elementary schools have recently resumed in-person instruction four days a week — two days a week for two different student groups — after they had not offered any in-person options since the pandemic struck in the spring. 

Students in prekindergarten, kindergarten, first grade and third grade returned Oct. 26. Students in second, fourth and fifth grades returned Nov. 2. 

That's despite COVID-19 numbers increasing by the week in Lancaster County. Last week, the county recorded 142 cases per 100,000 residents and a 6.5% positivity rate. It reached what the state calls a "substantial" level of community transmission, in which the Pennsylvania Department of Education recommends only remote instruction. 

In September, the Lancaster school board approved a health metric that states the district can transition students back to in-person learning when the county records new coronavirus cases in the range of 36 to 60 weekly cases per 100,000 residents.

At a meeting in late October, however, the school board gave Superintendent Damaris Rau the authority to abandon that health metric, paving the way for the return of elementary school students. 

There is no timetable for Lancaster middle school and high school students to resume in-person instruction. 

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