Pottsgrove Testing Prom-Goers for Virus Infection

LOWER POTTSGROVE PA – Test Day will precede Prom Night for Pottsgrove High School.

Pottsgrove students who have tickets to attend Saturday night’s prom festivities at Sunnybrook Ballroom in Sanatoga will be tested Thursday (April 22, 2021) for potential coronavirus infection as an extra-level-of-safety measure for all involved, Pottsgrove School District Community Relations Director Gary DeRenzo acknowledged Wednesday (April 21).

The tests come at a time when coronavirus cases across Montgomery County and Pennsylvania are rising, despite increased vaccination rates. Pottsgrove itself, according to its own coronavirus dashboard, has seen a steady weekly uptick in infections among both students and employees in the period from March 12 through Friday (April 16). Neighboring districts report similar trends, DeRenzo noted.

The prom, and future hopes for a real graduation ceremony in June, represent a potential return to normalcy for district families, faculty members, and the community. Unfortunately, DeRenzo considers it possible one or more prom-bound students may turn up virus-positive in Thursday’s tests. If so, he said, they’ll likely be excluded from the dance.

Tighter space leads to LPES quarantines

Meanwhile, parents at Lower Pottsgrove Elementary School sent messages Wednesday to The Post asking if it knew anything about a potential closing there due to the virus. Related worries have been a discussion topic on social media since Sunday (April 18).

No Lower Pottsgrove closing is anticipated, DeRenzo said.

A lack of space in the Buchert Road building, though, has resulted in less-than-6-feet of social distancing in some classes, he said; a minimum of 3 feet is required by the Board of School Directors. That has prompted more precautionary 10-day quarantines among students who were not infected, but were sitting within less than 6 feet of someone who was.

“The actual number of positives are still relatively low,” DeRenzo observed, and “we are continuing to monitor all the buildings” for signs of trouble, he added. Lower Pottsgrove Principal Terri Koehler offered similar comments in responding to social media followers, and was thanked for her follow-up and its description of how her school was responding.

In the past, the district has conducted a “functional shutdown” under county guidance if officials determine it is unable to safely and effectively operate with a building, or if there is a “linked transmission” inside a school or classroom.

A need for safety outside, as well as in

It’s inevitable that as days change so too will infection rates, either up or down. “Each day is very fluid,” DeRenzo explained. “If we see evidence of a linked transmission then we will pivot and adjust accordingly. If that means a classroom or building closure, then we will certainly act upon that information” while conferring with county health personnel, he said.

DeRenzo specifically credited nurses, building administrators, and district maintenance workers for “exceptional” efforts in helping to mitigate the virus and its effects in all buildings.

He also expressed hope that people involved in activities outside school buildings will exercise the same diligence as those inside them. From DeRenzo’s point of view, “a lack of continuous compliance of the guidelines outside of our schools” is a major factor in the coronavirus’ recent resurgence.

Photo by zelle duda via Unsplash, used under license