CHESTER COUNTY, PA — COVID-19 metrics held steady through October for Chester and Delaware county school districts overall but incidence rates are up in many schools, and not just in the last week, but over the last three weeks.
Of 29 school districts in Chester and Delaware counties, 15 showed COVID-19 incidence rates rising for three week running, in an Oct. 30 Chester County health department report. Incidence rate numbers refer to the number of cases per 100,000 residents. Positive test counts rose for three weeks running in 14 of the 29 school districts listed in the report.
The incidence rate in Marple-Newtown School District has climbed from 32 four weeks ago, to 115, to 131, to 161 in the most recent measure.
Tredyffrin-Easttown School District has seen a slow climb in incidence rates through October. Four weeks ago, the rate was 32 and the next week also 32, then it went to 42 the week of Oct. 16-22 and it was at 57 the week of Oct. 23-29.
Spikes to triple-digit incidence rates from the week of Oct. 16-22 to the week of Oct. 23-29 were seen at Chester-Upland (from 65 to 181), Garnet Valley (85 to 119), Coatesville (66 to 101), Penn-Delco (77 to 101), Ridley (130 to 199), Rose Tree Media, (72 to 106), Southeast Delco (82 to 174), Upper Darby (86 to 162), William Penn (85 to 154).
Radnor Township School District has done well for a month; four weeks ago its incidence rate was at 75, then it dropped to 41, then held at 44 for each of the last two weeks.
Phoenixville Area School District also saw steady numbers for three weeks, incidences rates in the 30s, but most recent week the rate was up to 63.88.
Great Valley's numbers have been up and down, going from 28 to 51 to 19 to this week 54.
Not all districts showed rises in incidence rates in the most recent week. West Chester Area School District saw its incidence rate go down, falling from in the 70s for two weeks to 52.96 in the week of Oct. 23-29.
Spring-Ford School District showed unusual numbers; incidence rates were reported at zero for two weeks, then an incidence rate of 30 and for the most recent week, 180. Yet Spring-Ford district reported only 6 positive COVID-19 tests.
Today, neighboring Montgomery County school districts with high numbers were told to go back to all-virtual learning as COVID-19 cases have surged there.
Most school districts in Chester County have moved fully through their phased reopenings, bringing students back into classrooms in hybrid teaching models.
No school districts were known to have announced changes to instructional models this week, though administrators at districts have said throughout the pandemic that they are in continuous consultation with state and county health departments and will make decisions using their guidance.
The safety of returning to school is measured in COVID-19 case counts, positivity rates that measure the spread of the virus, and incidence rates per 100,000 persons that measure how many newly confirmed cases are showing up an areas population.
Guidance was issued by the Chester County Health Department concerning what instructional models are recommended for COVID-19 metrics. Here is a chart from the health department's recommendations, updated Sept. 14:
Spikes in these metrics happen and districts keep an eye on patterns and averages over weeks, to determine models of instruction that are safe, as recommended by public health departments.
The Chester County Health Department serves both Chester and Delaware counties. A list of Chester and Delaware county school districts and their last four weeks of positive COVID-19 test counts and incidence rates can be found here.