The Diocese of Wilmington parish and diocesan schools have experienced success with in-school learning with limited impact from COVID-19 this school year as 2020 closes, but they will proceed with caution for a week coming back from the Christmas vacation and launching 2021.
Lou De Angelo, diocesan superintendent of schools, told parents in a Dec. 10 letter that school officials want to avoid a surge of cases among students and staff as they return from Christmas holiday.
“Therefore, to mitigate the situation to some degree, parish and diocesan schools will be in session virtually the week of January 4-8,” De Angelo said. “We believe this virtual week of learning will provide an opportunity for mitigating the spread of COVID, if families truly quarantine.”
Administrators, faculty, and staff will report to school this week to provide virtual instruction for students, he said.
Private Catholic schools — including Archmere Academy, Ursuline Academy, Salesianum School and St. Edmond’s Academy — are not required to follow the diocesan directive.
DeAngelo reported the following COVID-positive statistics for the 19 parish and diocesan school from Sept. 1 through Dec. 10:
111 student cases out of 6,027 students; 16 staff cases out of 786 staff members; 109 cases in the 14 schools in Delaware; 18 cases in the five schools on Maryland’s Eastern Shore.
De Angelo said all cases have been in the mild-to-moderate range. He also said school transmissions have not occurred, but transmissions have occurred outside of schools.
“When we reported to you one month ago, our total number of students and staff who had contracted COVID since Sept. 1 was 58. In one month’s time the caseload has more than doubled in number,” De Angelo said. “We are concerned that the Christmas break will result in even a greater number of COVID-positive cases.”
In a letter to school faculty and staff, De Angelo said he understands “the challenges that present themselves arranging child care of younger children, but hope this advance notice provides you the time to make such arrangements as working parents/guardians will do. We truly need everyone’s support, if this quarantine will be effective.”
“Truly you have done a phenomenal job in educating students since the start of school,” he said. “I have had the opportunity to see you in action in a visit to each school. I am amazed and grateful for all you do each day in this ever-changing environment in schools.”