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Following safety protocols, class at Catholic school in quarantine and transitions to virtual learning after teacher and student test positive for COVID-19

After a teacher and student at Holy Redeemer Catholic School in Kensington, Maryland, tested positive last week for COVD-19, school officials there and in the archdiocesan Catholic Schools Office implemented a plan already in place to transition the class to a virtual learning model for the next two weeks.

“Students in the class have been in quarantine since the Labor Day holiday,” said Kelly Branaman, Secretary for Catholic Schools and Superintendent of Schools for the Archdiocese of Washington, in an email interview. She added, “The school was prepared for the class to transition to virtual learning on Tuesday, Sept. 8. The class will quarantine for two weeks and return on Monday, Sept. 21.”

According to a statement released by the Archdiocese of Washington, the affected student was tested after exhibiting “mild symptoms.” The student “is now symptom free and feeling healthy,” the statement said. The class and teacher remain quarantined under the direction of the Montgomery County Health Department.

Once the student’s test results came back positive, the school immediately switched the class from in-person to distance learning, following an established protocol put in place before Catholic schools in the Archdiocese of Washington opened for fall instruction.

“Schools (that are) open with in-person learning prepared plans to move to virtual learning as a part of their reopening plans for the school year,” Branaman “It was important for schools to be prepared to transition to virtual learning should they be required to do so. Our goal was to continue the momentum of children’s formation and education and minimize time students would not be engaged in learning.”

She said that since that class has switched to distance learning, “Thomas Corrigan, principal, and staff are closely following the directives of the Montgomery County Health Department.”

“Cleaning protocols have been in effect, and health monitoring is completed daily for adults and students entering the building. The school continues to follow social distancing and requires face masks at all times,” Branaman said “I have full confidence that Mr. Corrigan and the staff are doing all they can to mitigate safety concerns.”

She added that the county health directives applied “only at the single class at Holy Redeemer School. In-person learning continues at the school for all other classes.” She added that “the two positive cases at Holy Redeemer do not impact other schools across the Archdiocese of Washington.”

“In addition to following the guidelines of the health department, the Catholic Schools Office continues to monitor and revise the reopening guidelines for school leaders on national updates from the CDC (Centers for Disease Control) as well as changes at the state and district level,” Branaman said.

In its statement, the Archdiocese of Washington thanked the county health officials for their assistance in handling the situation. “We are appreciative of the Montgomery County Health Department’s support and response to this particular case and other calls and inquiries we have made since the reopening of our Catholic schools that have opened for in-person learning,” the statement said.

“I know other school leaders and staff join me in keeping the Holy Redeemer community in our prayers,” Branaman said. “We continue to remind all families and employees across the archdiocese to follow all safety protocols at school, at home and when in the community.”