Loyola Academy, Illinois’ largest private high school, canceled classes for a second straight day Tuesday after administrators learned a student had come in contact with one of the state’s nearly dozen coronavirus patients.
The closure shines the spotlight on Chicago area private schools’ response to the new coronavirus, COVID-19, as the city’s public schools also prepare for any potential outbreaks after a case was reported last week at a special education high school.
Loyola Academy, which serves 2,000 students, is the largest of more than 600 private schools that serve almost 150,000 students in the broader Chicago area. Loyola falls under the Archdiocese of Chicago, which on its own operates more than 200 of those schools in the city and suburbs with about 70,000 students.
Even as the north suburban Wilmette high school closes for a second day, students there will still be given online assignments as the building goes through a deep clean.
“Continuing to exercise an abundance of caution, [Loyola Academy] will be closed on Tuesday, March 10, as we actively seek out additional information from” county and state health departments, the school said on its website.
Classes were initially canceled Monday after the parent of a Loyola Academy student emailed a school nurse and a counselor to say their family had contact with someone who tested positive for COVID-19, the school said.
The student and family are under a 14-day quarantine, but are not exhibiting symptoms, officials said.
State and local officials announced Monday that Illinois now has 11 coronavirus patients. Two of the four latest cases, all in Chicago, are family members of an aide at Vaughn Occupational High School in Chicago’s Portage Park neighborhood.
Chicago Archdiocese spokeswoman Susan Thomas said the archdiocese has been in touch with the Chicago Department of Public Health and is consulting city officials on its preparedness efforts.
Guidance has gone out to principals that they should conduct more frequent cleaning of their schools moving forward, Thomas said. And while each school buys its own cleaning supplies and soap, the archdiocese is checking in with administrators to make sure they have enough.
Thomas also said the archdiocese doesn’t centrally monitor attendance at all its schools, but there have been no reports of major attendance dips.
In early February, St. Barnabas School, a Catholic school on the Far South Side, closed for a day after more than a quarter of its students and some employees stayed home sick.
The school closed and underwent a deep clean the day after almost 140 students were sent home with the flu, strep throat or stomach flu.