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The Tunkhannock Area School District is gearing up to start the 2020-21 school year on Sept. 9.

Area schools are experiencing relatively minor COVID-19 outbreaks.

Tunkhannock Area Schools dismissed early Monday and was closed Tuesday and will be today (Nov. 18) after a pair of COVID cases presented themselves in the Intermediate Center and one in the high school on Monday.

Superintendent Heather McPherson said the district had been in touch with the Pennsylvania Department of Health to begin contact tracing.

She said that in an abundance of caution, all schools in the district would be closed the two days, and that students, teachers and paraprofessionals would work remotely.

“I hope everyone will remain calm and cautiously optimistic,” McPherson said. “We will continue to follow our plan which has worked well for us so far, thank you.”

The district held a special school board meeting on Nov. 9 to discuss the fact that Wyoming County had been in the ‘Substantial transmission’ phase for the second week in a row, and Wyoming County EMA Director was on hand to provide information, statistics and thoughts about the situation.

The county’s positive COVID-19 cases has more than tripled since Oct. 22 when there were 101 cases in Wyoming County to 336 as of midnight, Nov. 17. There were eight fatalities that have grown to 13 across the same time frame.

Under Pennsylvania Department of Health guidelines, the state Department of Education recommends a school district move to 100 percent virtual learning under a ‘Substantial transmission’ scenario.

On Nov. 9, school board members voiced their thoughts and all were in agreement that the district should “stay the course” that they are currently on, following the guidelines in the TASD approved Health and Safety Plan.

The matter is again on the agenda for the school board’s next meeting at 7:30 p.m., Wednesday, Nov. 18.

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Lackawanna Trail High School remained open last Wednesday after a student tested positive for the coronavirus on Tuesday (Nov. 10).

The school had reopened two weeks earlier, after closing for two weeks because of nine COVID-19 cases. The district is one of the only in the region to operate with a traditional schedule for students.

Because of the latest case at Trail, three students, two teachers and two administrators must also quarantine, Superintendent Matthew Rakauskas said.

Nov. 12 is the last day of the district’s first marking period, and the school was to be closed Friday as an Act 80 Day (teacher’s in-service).

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Keystone College, partly in Factoryville and partly in LaPlume, has had eight cases reported in students since Nov. 4, spokesman Fran Calpin said.

So far, the college has had 19 cases since the semester began — 17 students and two adjunct faculty members.

The school has 40 students in quarantine — 23 in campus, and 17 off campus.

(Times-Shamrock writers Sarah Hofius Hall and Boris Krawczeniuk also contributed to this story.)

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