Penn Manor construction

Construction continues at Penn Manor High School 100 E. Cottage Ave. in Millersville Borough Friday, Oct. 9, 2020.

Penn Manor High School has suspended in-person classes this week with COVID-19 cases on the rise.

Students will learn online until Monday, Oct. 19, and all extracurricular activities originally scheduled in that time have been canceled.

Because of the holiday, students were off Monday, Oct. 12.

The district made the decision in consultation with medical professionals after officials learned of two new cases at the high school, Superintendent Mike Leichliter stated Monday afternoon in an announcement to district families.

The school district has reported six total cases at the high school and nine districtwide.

“During the closure, we expect students to act responsibly by practicing social distancing, wearing masks in public and monitoring their health,” Leichliter’s letter states. “… As a community, we all need to do our part to assure that in-person learning can safely resume for Penn Manor students.”

Penn Manor High School is the sixth Lancaster County public school to temporarily close this fall due to COVID-19. The other five were Conestoga Valley High School, Donegal Intermediate School, East High Street Elementary School, Pequea Valley High School and Pequea Valley Intermediate Center. 

The latter three closed last week. East High Street, in the Elizabethtown Area School District, resumes in-person instruction Tuesday. The two Pequea Valley School District schools resume in-person instruction Wednesday. 

The Penn Manor closure comes three weeks after the school board voted 5-4 in favor of phasing in full-time in-person instruction. 

Currently, grades three through 12 are following a hybrid model in which students attend in-person classes two days a week, with the remainder of the week online. Students in kindergarten through second grade, as well as students requiring special education services and students learning English as a second language, are following a traditional in-person schedule.

Barring a change of plan at its Nov. 2 school board meeting, students in grades three through seven, nine and 12 will return Nov. 9; students in grades eight, 10 and 11 will return Nov. 16.

For now, the high school closure doesn't impact the phase-in plan. Any recommended changes would be made closer to Nov. 2, Leichliter told LNP | LancasterOnline.  

School board President Carlton Rintz, who was traveling Monday, said in a text that he's been in constant contact with Leichliter regarding the potential shift to online learning at the high school. The board, however, "has not met or had discussions related to the current status," he said.

The district will continue to monitor the situation in coordination with the Pennsylvania Department of Health and Penn Medicine Lancaster General Health, he said.