Private and public schools should be transparent about COVID-19 cases among their students and staff – and what they’re doing about it.
It’s not surprising that Marian Central Catholic High School in Woodstock discovered cases among its student population, but what is disappointing is the apparent lack of communication with the larger community.
The Northwest Herald reached out to school administration Tuesday about the possibility of cases. No one returned the reporter’s phone call.
That evening, the school posted on Facebook that it would switch to remote learning starting Wednesday. The two-sentence post did not say why the switch was occurring.
Another Northwest Herald reporter reached out again Thursday, and once again, no one returned phone calls. The reporter was able to confirm that at least two students had positive COVID-19 test results via a parent.
Marian Central shouldn’t be dinged for having cases. This isn’t the NHL or NBA. Students and staff aren’t living in a bubble.
But what schools do have control over is what they do when a case is confirmed, and we – as members of the public and as members of a community impacted by the actions of our neighbors – have a right to know what schools are doing to prevent a case from becoming an outbreak.
Neighboring Lake County saw two school districts report COVID-19 cases around the same time over the summer. The cases, tied to Lake Zurich High School’s summer sports camps, appear to have contributed to an outbreak, impacting community members who weren’t students and staff, while the other did not.
Were there steps the one district took that could be replicated by other schools? What can we learn about how the cases at Lake Zurich High School were handled as more schools consider reopening?
Marian Central should have had a plan for what would happen if and when cases occurred, and school officials should be transparent about what that plan was, whether it was followed and if they’re adjusting the plan moving forward.