Coronavirus Concerns: St. Ray’s closed another week as other schools reopen


PAWTUCKET, R.I. (WPRI) ─ St. Raphael Academy will remain closed for an additional week after another faculty member tested “presumptive positive” for the coronavirus, according to a spokeswoman for the school.

The woman in her 20s from Norfolk County tested presumptive positive for the virus on Monday and is a faculty member at St. Raphael, according to health officials.

On Tuesday, health officials learned the woman attended the same trip coordinated by St. Raphael Academy as the two patients from Rhode Island who tested positive for the virus. The trip, which took place in mid-February, included travel in Italy, where an outbreak of coronavirus is present.

The spokeswoman for St. Raphael said all students who had direct contact with those who tested positive for the virus have been contacted and have been self-quarantined.

The school, according to the spokeswoman, is expected to reopen on March 16.

“Although transmission risk is still low, we prefer to take a conservative approach,” she said in a statement. “We once again ask for continued prayers for those affected, but also stress the need for continued compassion and sensitivity during this challenging time.”

There is only one confirmed case of the coronavirus in Rhode Island. The man in his 40s is a St. Raphael faculty member and is still recovering.

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Additionally, a teenage girl who also attended the trip tested presumptive positive for the virus, though confirmation of her results is still pending with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). Health officials said she is recovering well at home.

A third patient, a woman in her 30s who works for Achievement First Academy and was a chaperone on the trip, was showing symptoms of the virus, but her test results came back negative.

The Achievement First Academy facilities in Providence and Cranston were closed Monday and Tuesday for cleaning while awaiting her test results. Both reopened Wednesday.

A teacher at Silver Spring School in East Providence, who’s married to one of the Rhode Islanders who tested positive, is currently self-quarantined, according to Superintendent Kathryn Crowley. So far, she has not experienced any symptoms.

Crowley also said a teacher at the East Providence Career and Technical Center is also self-quarantined after returning from a family vacation to Italy. She hasn’t experienced any symptoms of the virus but said she would contact the school district and the health department if that changes.

Meadowbrook Farms School in East Greenwich also closed Tuesday for cleaning after school officials learned the sibling of a student had developed symptoms following a trip to Italy, though the student has not experienced symptoms. The school also reopened Wednesday.

So far, Rhode Island health officials have tested nearly 20 people for the coronavirus. Eleven of those tests came back negative while seven are pending. State health officials also said approximately 200 Rhode Islanders are self-quarantined.

This message was sent to St. Raphael Academy parents Wednesday morning:

“In light of the news that one of our faculty has received a “presumptive positive” result for the coronavirus, this faculty’s class rosters were provided to RIDOH, and they began making phone calls to student’s families on Tuesday evening, March 3. The students who were in contact with this faculty member will be under self-quarantine from now until the end of the day on March 12, 2020.

“RIDOH stresses that the quarantine is only for the SRA student who was in direct contact with the faculty member. Parents, siblings and other household members are not impacted and may go about business as usual. Students who are not self-quarantined are allowed to be out in public.

“At this time, RIDOH is not requiring that the school remain closed, but SRA administration has decided to continue online coursework through March 13. Although transmission risk is still low, we prefer to take a conservative approach. Presently, we expect normal operations to resume on Monday, March 16. We know that this is unconventional, and we ask for your continued patience and cooperation as we work to safeguard the well-being of the community.

It has recently come to our attention that one of the other chaperones who was undergoing testing has come back negative. We are very relieved for her and the school community.

“We are working with the appropriate agencies to determine how extra-curricular activities (including sports and drama) will be conducted during this school closure.

“We once again ask for continued prayers for those affected but also stress the need for continued compassion and sensitivity during this challenging time.

Saints Strong!”

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