COOLSPRING TOWNSHIP – Around 50 students attending the Mercer County Career Center are in quarantine after two students at the vocational school tested positive for COVID-19.
School officials learned of the situation Friday and immediately alerted the 12 Mercer County school districts who send students to the school, Tony Miller, MCCC’s administrative director, said Monday. The affected students were from two different schools.
“We reported these cases to the Department of Health and the schools they came from have to do likewise,’’ he said.
Miller said contact tracing protocol indicated that about 50 students needed to be quarantined.
The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommends a 14-day quarantine for anyone who comes into close contact with an individual infected with COVID-19. Close contact is considered being within 6 feet of someone with the coronavirus for 15 minutes or longer.
On Monday MCCC stopped face-to-face instruction and put its 400 students in remote learning through Friday, in compliance with guidelines from the state.
Recommendations from the state departments of Health and Education call for closing school buildings for three to five days if two to four people in the same school building, either students or teachers, or 5% of the total number of students or staff test positive for COVID-19 in a 14-day period.
“We are now deep-cleaning our building,’’ Miller said.
MCCC's students come from the county's 12 public school districts and spend half the day in their home high schools and the other half at the vocational school.
Miller said MCCC has been following state and federal guidelines, including wearing masks, checking students’ temperatures as they enter the building and practicing social distancing whenever possible.
But that might not always be possible. MCCC provides trade education in such fields as welding and auto mechanics, which can require students and instructors to closely interact, Miller said.
Although book-learning is often a part of the courses, it’s difficult to make up lost time in hands-on instruction.
“We don’t want to be in remote learning past this week,’’ Miller said.
Sharpsville Area School District is among the schools that sends students to MCCC. John Vannoy, the district’s superintendent, said the center has the situation well in hand. Sharpsville has about a dozen students in the vocational school.
Vannoy said those students are following the trade center's remote learning guidelines and credited the MCCC for being transparent with its member schools.
“We got informed of this right away,'' Vannoy said.
CAREER CENTER SCHOOL DISTRICTS
The 12 Mercer County school districts that send students to the Mercer County Career Center:
• Commodore Perry
• Farrell Area School District
• Greenville Area School District
• Grove City Area School District
• Hermitage Area School District
• Jamestown Area School District
• Lakeview School District
• Mercer Area School District
• Reynolds School District
• Sharon City School District
• Sharpsville Area School District
• West Middlesex Area School District