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2 Virginia private schools switch to online learning after COVID outbreak

The Catholic Diocese of Arlington says the outbreak occurred at an off-campus event not sponsored by the schools.

ARLINGTON, Va. — Two Arlington private schools have temporarily switched to virtual learning after a coronavirus outbreak at an off-campus gathering Halloween night.

The Catholic Diocese of Arlington said 12 students at Bishop O'Connell High School recently tested positive for the virus while another two staff members at St. Thomas More Cathedral School have come down sick with the disease as well.

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The diocese said the two staff members attended the same gathering with 11 of the infected Bishop O’Connell students.

The diocese added the event was not school sponsored. The diocese said it made the decision to switch to online learning after initially learning of two positive cases at each school.

Currently, the diocese said there is no evidence of community spread at either school. Both campuses are being cleaned.

“Positivity rates in our schools are below the state and local averages and these actions that were taken by both these schools are mitigating the issue rather than causing any kind of additional spread,” Dr. Joseph Vorbach, superintendent of Diocese of Arlington Catholic Schools, said. 

The diocese said both school systems switched to online learning out of an abundance of caution. St. Thomas More Cathedral School is scheduled to go back to in-person learning Tuesday. Bishop O’Connell High School is slated to return to in-person learning after Thanksgiving Break.

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Vorbach said the school system will continue to ask students and staff to be vigilant to prevent the coronavirus' spread.

“The vigilance part has been getting a lot of messaging from the school leaders,” he said. “It really is critical that everybody in our communities appreciate that, in order to continue the in-person learning which we know is really healthy for our students."

This case is not related to an incident in Montgomery County where 25 people tested positive for the coronavirus after attending a Halloween house party.

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