What to Know
- Germantown Academy is closed Monday after officials determined a student is related to one of the four people in Montgomery County who tested positive for COVID-19.
- School officials will begin operating Virtual Germantown Academy for grades PreK-12 starting March 12 through March 17.
- So far, four people have tested positive for coronavirus in Pennsylvania.
A Montgomery County school will close this week after officials determined a student is related to one of the four people in the county who tested positive for the new coronavirus.
Officials said a student at Germantown Academy is a family member of a Montgomery County resident who tested positive for COVID-19.
"While that family member is experiencing only mild, cold-like symptoms, and while the GA student has no symptoms, the student will self-quarantine at home for at least two weeks," a spokesperson for Germantown Academy said. "The family member has not been on GA’s campus, but the student was in attendance through Friday, March 6."
The school will be closed Monday through Wednesday. School officials will then begin operating Virtual Germantown Academy for grades PreK-12 starting March 12 through March 17 which will then be followed by Spring Break.
During that time, all interior spaces at the school will undergo a "thorough deep cleaning" as a precaution before students return to the building.
"Though the Montgomery County Department of Public Health has advised us that there is no concern for anyone else right now, we are a large community with people of all ages and conditions and caring for them must be our priority," school officials said. "We are taking proactive measures to protect the health of our students, teachers, staff and those who use our facilities."
Germantown Academy is a nonsectarian, independent, coeducational college preparatory school located in Fort Washington, Pennsylvania. Founded in 1759, it’s the oldest nonsectarian day school in the United States.
So far four people have tested positive for coronavirus in Montgomery County and six overall in Pennsylvania. Two of those people – a man and a woman – live in Worcester Township and Lower Gwynedd Township, respectively, and got infected after traveling to states where the virus is present, Montgomery County Board of Commissioners Chair Dr. Valerie Arkoosh said. Their test results will be sent to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention for confirmation.
Both patients have displayed only “mild” symptoms, do not require hospitalization and are isolated in their homes, Arkoosh said.
Arkoosh said most of the people the pair were in contact with have been reached by state health officials and have not shown any symptoms. However, she cautioned that more cases are expected to crop up.
Symptoms of the coronavirus include fever, cough, muscle pain or fatigue and shortness of breath, according to the CDC. The virus has an incubation period – the time between exposure and the first appearance of symptoms – of about five days.
COVID-19 is spread mainly from person-to-person when droplets from an infected person who coughs or sneezes land on someone else’s nose or mouth or enter their lungs, according to the CDC. It can also be spread when someone touches their own mouth, nose and possibly eyes after coming into contact with a surface that has the virus on it.
To prevent the spread of the virus, the CDC recommends frequently washing hands with soap and water for at least 20 seconds – or using an alcohol-based hand sanitizer with at least 60% alcohol – wiping down dirty surfaces and using the inside of the elbow to cover a cough or sneeze.