The Ins and Outs of School This Month

As COVID-19 cases rise, the district has switched over to remote learning, but next week remains an open question.

NASH+was+to+return+to+hybrid+instruction+last+Tuesday%2C+but+the+district+moved+to+full-remote+hours+before+the+school+day+began.

photo by D. Crickets

NASH was to return to hybrid instruction last Tuesday, but the district moved to full-remote hours before the school day began.

Evelyn Wiethorn, Staff Writer

With COVID-19 cases rising, health concerns pre-occupied the minds of NASh students planning to return to in-person learning last Tuesday. However, a letter from the administration of North Allegheny School District in the early morning of December 1st allayed fears.

Starting the day with a two-hour delay, the email announced that NASH would be operating fully remote from December 1st through December 4th. With striking similarities to the first COVID-19 quarantine, many students are panicking, wondering if this is the start of a second, even longer school-wide lockdown.

“I personally think we’re not going back anytime soon,” said junior Emily Yanchak. “The virus is getting worse again. It’s worse right now than it ever was when we were in quarantine. Schools are shutting down, and I just know that we’re going to have a second quarantine.” 

Schools are shutting down, and I just know that we’re going to have a second quarantine.”

— Emily Yanchak, junior

While North Allegheny seems to be operating on a week-to-week basis, several nearby school districts have already announced long-term plans in response to the spikes in cases. 

Seneca Valley released a statement requiring that all students in grades 7-12 will operate fully remote through January 4th. The district also announced that elementary students will begin learning through a hybrid model, similar to the one North Allegheny has been using. 

Like Seneca, Pine-Richland has also announced a full-remote model for the entire month of December. They plan to go back, or at least re-evaluate, come January 1st.

“I don’t think we are gonna go back,” said junior Liza Lowman. “The [North Allegheny Administration] keeps calling it week-by-week, and I think it’s best if we stay home till after break since people will be traveling so much.”

Allegheny County has been experiencing major spikes in COVID-19 cases in the past week, most likely due to the increase in traveling during Thanksgiving weekend.

On Thursday, Dr. Debra Bogen, Director of the County Health Department, announced a record-breaking 1,028 new cases and 20 new deaths. The rise in cases is only expected to increase over the next week, as testing becomes more available to those exposed to the virus. 

On November 29th, Dr. Anthony Fauci, the nation’s top infectious disease expert, warned Americans of the worsening conditions of the pandemic.

“What we expect, unfortunately, as we go for the next couple of weeks into December, is that we might see a surge superimposed on the surge we are already in,” Fauci said in an interview with NBC.

Although positive COVID-19 cases increased over Thanksgiving, the upcoming holiday season is expected to be even more detrimental, as more people are expected to be traveling, disregarding pleas from health officials to stay home.

A vaccine, however, might deter the expected jump in cases. The COVID-19 vaccine has already started to be distributed in the UK and is on its way to be administered to the 20 million frontline health care workers in the U.S. 

It is impossible to predict the response of the NA district administration during these difficult times, but students can be fairly certain that if the number of positive COVID-19 cases continues to rise, they can expect to spend most of their class time on-line in the coming months.