Townships’ Virus Positivity Rates Rise Over Six Weeks

LOWER POTTSGROVE PA – Coronavirus positivity rates within Lower, Upper and West Pottsgrove townships, the three municipalities that comprise the Pottsgrove School District, have generally been headed in the wrong direction during the past six weeks, district-supplied statistics indicate.

Townships' Virus Positivity Rates Rise Over Six Weeks

Its chart (at right) of the municipalities’ 14-day positivity rate shows coronavirus infections in:

  • Lower Pottsgrove have risen continuously from 11.9 percent on Dec. 4 to 20.33 percent on Thursday (Jan. 7, 2021);
  • West Pottsgrove climbed from 6.94 percent Dec. 4 to 16.29 percent Thursday; and
  • Upper Pottsgrove provided a minor bright spot, where the rate rose from 12.86 percent Dec. 4 to 16.13 percent through Dec. 31, then dropped slightly to 16.65 percent Thursday.

State and regional experts believe the positivity rates are likely to remain relatively unchanged during the next three weeks, the superintendent explained, but should begin trending down during February.

Townships' Virus Positivity Rates Rise Over Six Weeks

Things look better, however, in the district-wide incidence rate per 100,000 people (at left). It registered at 213.01 on Dec. 4, then spiked to 560.31 by Dec. 11, and since has been gradually falling to 379.72 as of Thursday.

The incidence rate by municipality (below) in Lower and Upper Pottsgrove followed similar trends, but spiked substantially in West Pottsgrove between Dec. 31 and Thursday, when the number jumped from 284.16 to 439.16.

District Superintendent Dr. William Shirk, who referred to the numbers (available in an online document, here) as he talked during Tuesday’s (Jan. 12) Board of School Directors’ meeting, said he will “respect the wishes of our community” and assured the district would continue to work with families who are reluctant to choose hybrid (part-time in-person and online) learning for their students.

Townships' Virus Positivity Rates Rise Over Six Weeks

Many of them continue to opt for the safety of virtual-only education.

Shirk said 55 percent of elementary students, 37 percent of middle school students, and 22 percent of high school students were enrolled in hybrid classes; the rest remained online only. Fortunately, he said, the district “is small enough to handle” families’ varied needs.

Could all students be back in school by the academic year’s fourth quarter?, board member Al Leach wondered. “The fourth quarter is not an unrealistic goal,” Shirk replied, but he declined to “draw a line” that forced families to make a transition. The coronavirus environment must change substantially before more families voluntarily agree to send their students back to district classrooms, he added.

“The main cause of (virus) spread is still our adults,” Shirk observed. “Make sure you’re wearing a mask,” he urged the board’s Zoom viewing audience.

Data images supplied by the Pottsgrove School District