UPJ Mountain Cat statue

The University of Pittsburgh at Johnstown Mountain Cat statue sits in an empty courtyard during spring break March 11, 2020, at the campus in Richland Township.

Ten new positive COVID-19 cases in students prompted the University of Pittsburgh at Johnstown on Wednesday to add restrictions by moving to a higher “risk posture” in the school’s response plan.

Meanwhile, Forest Hills Junior-Senior High School will resume in-person classes Thursday, while the elementary students will continue remote learning for at least a week, the district announced.

At 5 p.m. Wednesday, Pitt-Johnstown moved from guarded to elevated risk posture, the university announced Wednesday.

“All students who have tested positive are in isolation,” the alert on Pitt’s website said. “The close contacts of these individuals are currently in quarantine and being monitored by health services.”

Under the elevated posture, most classes will be held online and fewer shared spaces will be open. Gatherings are capped at 25 people.

The elevated status comes just as the university’s Pittsburgh campus is preparing to reduce restrictions and hold more in-person classes. Pitt announced last week the Oakland campus will transition on Monday from elevated risk posture to guarded risk posture, which caps gatherings at 250 people.

'Incredible hardship'

At Forest Hills, Superintendent David Lehman acknowledged the sudden changes in learning models have been challenging for everyone involved.

“We know this is an incredible hardship for the parents,” he said. “We have parents who work. This is an incredible hardship for the community.”

For those without internet access, wireless access points have been established in the district's parking lots for use after 4 p.m. Meals will be distributed Monday from the high school auditorium entrance. Registration is available on the district website.

All schools were closed last Thursday after the Department of Health notified the administration of four COVID-19 cases in the district. Since then, two more cases have been confirmed in the elementary school, Lehman said in a letter to parents.

'Quarantine protocol'

The elementary school will remain under the remote learning model through Wednesday, the district announced.

"Be advised that all students identified as being in the quarantine protocol will remain in quarantine until that period has passed," the letter said.

Activities for junior and senior high school students will also resume on Thursday. During the quarantine period, only two spectator tickets will be issued for each participant.

Lehman said he has consulted with the health department, education department, Pennsylvania School Boards Association and Intermediate Unit 8 in developing the district’s response.

“I’ve spoken to everyone,” he said. “My phone is always on charge. There is not a lack of trying to make our system work.

“These are very hard decisions when you are trying to take the health and safety of your students seriously.”

Randy Griffith is a multimedia reporter for The Tribune-Democrat. He can be reached at 532-5057. Follow him on Twitter @PhotoGriffer57.

Recommended for you