A Recent Rise in COVID-19 Cases at Allderdice


Henry C. Schmitt

Taylor Allderdice High School.

Since Allderdice has gone mask-optional, there has been a significant increase in COVID cases. On April 29, 2022, the day masks became optional, there was one reported case, according to the Allderdice COVD-19 alerts. On the following Monday, Allderdice had ten COVID cases in the COVID alert for that day. Allderdice has had a mask mandate all year, and with a unanimous vote, the Pittsburgh board of education voted to lift the mandate.

The rise of cases has affected many schools across the Pittsburgh Public School (PPS). The rise in cases has led to Pittsburgh CAPA being closed for in-person schooling from May 10 through May 13. After CAPA returns to school, all people in the building must wear masks until May 20. Pittsburgh Colfax, as well as the central administration building, have also been shut down from May 9 to May 13. The rolling list of building closures and PPS school updates can be found here.

When discussing whether lifting the mask mandate was a good decision, Allderdice school nurse Kristie Yalch says that “a lot of our students didn’t wear their masks correctly anyways.”

Yalch and Lauren Compel, the other Allderdice school nurse, added that the rise might just be situational. They said that other districts, including ones that have had their mandate lifted for months, are seeing a rise in COVID cases. With the rising numbers, some are worrying about a school shutdown. The nurses, however, said that they are not sure about a shutdown. Compel pointed out that Allderdice’s “threshold” (number of COVID cases needed for shut down) is relatively high. 

Dr. James McCoy, the principal at Allderdice, while addressing whether lifting the mandate was correct, said that it is not that simple. McCoy said that “this is what we are dealing with and we will adapt and adjust.”

Talking about the possible school shutdown, Dr. McCoy said that “it doesn’t look like it, but that could change.” In order for Allderdice to shut down, eighty students and/or staff members must test positive in the span of fourteen days. The current number of COVID  cases at Allderdice and other PPS buildings in the past 2 weeks can be seen with the 14-Day Rolling Summary Report. He also said, “It could happen, but I’m crossing my fingers that it doesn’t, especially with all the events and things going on.”

If the numbers stay high, McCoy plans to “communicate with central office.” He also mentioned, “how COVID is handled aren’t school-based decisions; it’s central office.” He said, “it’s never really my decision whether or not we shut down, and how we handle certain situations.”

When talking about vaccines, McCoy said, “I would encourage anyone who can get a vaccine to do so.” A vaccine could help improve the numbers at Allderdice because it can slow the spread of COVID. When asked about a vaccine mandate for the district, Dr. McCoy said, “I’m really not sure. It will be interesting to see all the lessons we learned through this process: how it affects students, how it affects staff, and how it makes changes to our overall protocol of how we handle COVID next year”.

PPS has moved back to a mask mandate after our community levels rised to moderate. For more information about PPS protocol, see the PPS Covid-19 Information and Procedures dashboard.