November 1, 2020
Dear Cub Community,
In communications today with the Detroit Health Dept. (DHD), they are recommending the continuation of virtual learning for Academy students (7th and 8th grades). We will provide more updates to Academy parents next week.
I would like to provide perspective on the COVID-19 related events this week, as well as guidance for moving forward:
Seven positive COVID-19 cases involving students/staff were reported to me from Friday 10/23/20 through Thursday 10/29/20. Two cases were related to the Academy and the remainder pertained to the High School.
The unique and dynamic situation of the Academy (i.e. all student recess/gym) and the need to determine the relationship between the two cases was the initial impetus for the DHD recommending virtual learning. As cases were reported in the High School, the DHD felt it necessary to continue virtual learning while a “big picture” evaluation is undertaken, especially considering the Academy and High School are in one building.
Of the reported cases, one appears to be a false positive and others secondary to outside exposures. It is being determined if any cases are related. Past cases have not resulted in outbreaks due to the safety measures in place at school plus the immediate contract tracing and quarantining of students/faculty determined to be close contacts.
The quarantine of close contacts is a proactive step in that it keeps those within the school safe. Those in close contact, while having been exposed to the virus, likely will remain healthy. However, if that person does become ill or subsequently tests positive, the risk of an outbreak is mitigated by not having that person in the building. Switching to virtual learning is a proactive measure for the Academy. It prevents the intermingling of students and potential exposure to the coronavirus while contact tracing and analysis is performed.
The landscape has changed significantly since the start of school in August. The COVID-19 infection rate is high and the number of new daily cases is more than 30 per 100k people, which is higher than at the start of the pandemic. I receive one or two calls a day concerning students exposed to COVID-19 outside of school (travel teams, household members). Moving forward, it is a reasonable assumption that at least one student in one of your son’s classes has entered quarantine. Therefore, it is especially important during these upcoming months to monitor your son for symptoms.
To give more up-to-date information, the COVID-19 Dashboard will be updated within a 24-hours’ notice of a positive case. Those deemed a close/direct contact will receive a phone call in addition to electronic communication. The families of a classroom student who is not a close contact will receive an email notifying them of a positive case. The number of U of D Jesuit community members entering quarantine due to outside exposure, will be listed in the Weekly Dashboard Summary. The website will also indicate if students have entered quarantine due to contact tracing within the building, but the dashboard may not reflect a total number for that group. Additionally, we have found the informational emails stating “someone entered quarantine” have caused confusion and therefore will no longer be sent.
I can appreciate and empathize with the anxiety this past week may have generated. My hope is you take heart in the collaborative efforts of the students, families, faculty, and staff in keeping the school safe. Acknowledgement must be extended to the students and their families in quarantine for their understanding as to its purpose. It is not a pleasant phone call to make, but universally the response was “I understand.” Please continue to be vigilant in monitoring your son(s) for illness/symptoms and be conscientious of his activities.
Deb Wolfe, M.D.
School Health Professional
U of D Jesuit High School and Academy