A second-grade class at St. Giles Catholic School, 1034 Linden Ave. in Oak Park, has been quarantined since last week after one student reportedly tested positive for COVID-19, according to a spokesperson for the Archdiocese of Chicago.

Manny Gonzales, the Archdiocese of Chicago’s director of communications, said on Oct. 5 that the class will be learning remotely until Oct. 9. He said that the student likely contracted the virus outside of class. No other students in the school have been affected, he said.

“We reported this to the local health department and the department does contract tracing,” Gonzales said. “They also monitor for potential clusters.”

Gonzales said that, as far as he knows, no other Catholic schools in the Oak Park and River Forest area have had instances where a whole class has had to quarantine. He added that he doesn’t know how many students were in the class that is currently quarantining. When contacted on Monday, St. Giles officials referred all questions to the Archdiocese.

Gonzales said that when St. Giles administrators learned about the student’s positive case, they notified all of the school’s parents and the Archdiocese, which, in turn, notified the Oak Park Department of Public Health.

A representative with the health department could not be reached on Monday afternoon. On Oct. 2, Oak Park Public Health Director Mike Charley announced in a statement posted to the village’s website that “nine more village residents have tested positive for the COVID-19 coronavirus since his last report on Wednesday.

“Six cases were reported yesterday and three today,” he said. “The cases reported today range in ages from less than 20 into their 70s.”

Catholic school students have been undertaking in-person learning since August. Before each school could reopen, it was required to complete a reopening checklist and submit it to the Archdiocese for review.

According to the Archdiocese of Chicago’s comprehensive reopening plan that it released in July, students are required to wear masks and have been physically distancing in their homeroom classes.

“Our plan calls for each student to be part of a larger group of students called a ‘cohort,'” the reopening document states. “Each cohort will roughly align with a homeroom class. When students are with their cohort, they should remain as far apart as possible, but do not need to keep at least six feet apart.

“Homeroom teachers are also part of cohorts and can walk around their classroom to monitor student classwork. When students are around other cohorts, they should remain at least six feet apart. We believe the cohort model provides for better containment should there be a positive case of COVID-19.”

Parents and/or guardians of students who show signs of COVID-19 should contact their doctor, who may ask them to take a test. Families are required to alert their school’s main office and avoid sending their child to school, the Archdiocese states in the plan.

According to health experts, young people are much less likely than older adults to get very sick from COVID-19, but they nonetheless risk spreading the virus directly and indirectly to older adults.  

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