Virus spikes in hot spots causing disruptions at more schools and parishes

Messenger Staff Report

As the Thanksgiving Day holiday approaches, the coronavirus is continuing to spread in the Diocese of Covington. This week, Holy Cross District High School, Notre Dame Academy and Newport Central Catholic High School have transitioned to remote learning. NCCHS plans to reconvene in-person instruction on Nov. 20, while NDA will resume Nov. 23 and HCDHS will stay remote until after the Thanksgiving holiday.

The Curia office saw its first positive case and several quarantines this week.

Also this week, two priests have tested positive for COVID-19 and two priests are quarantined because they were determined to be close contacts to a case. Additionally, three deacons have tested positive for COVID-19. Due to these cases and quarantines, weekday Mass and all services and activities have been suspended at Blessed Sacrament Parish, Ft. Mitchell; St. Barbara Parish, Erlanger; St. John Mission, Dividing Ridge; St. Timothy Parish, Union and St. William Parish, Williamstown. Weekend Masses will be celebrated as scheduled.

Based on the details of each of the parish cases, parishioners are not determined to be close contacts, according to Laura Keener, diocesan COVID coordinator. Parishioners have been advised of the exposure at the parish and are encouraged to monitor for symptoms.

The diocese is reporting its highest number — 71 — of COVID positive cases in its schools. An additional 1,280 students are in quarantine because they are determined to be close contacts to a COVID case either at school, an activity outside of school or at home.

“With the increase of COVID-19 cases in the community the spike in cases and quarantines in the Curia, schools and parishes was expected,” said Mrs. Keener.

Despite the rise in quarantines many of the diocese’s nine high schools and 32 elementary schools are faring well. Of the cases and quarantines reported, 65 percent are from five of the hardest hit schools — Holy Cross District High School, Immaculate Heart of Mary School, St. Mary School, St. Pius X School and Villa Madonna Academy. At those schools, most of the quarantines are close contacts and not positive cases of COVID-19. For example: HCDHS has 109 students in quarantine, with nine positive cases of COVID-19. All but one of HCDHS’ positive cases could trace exposure to the virus to a family member or friend outside of school.

“It’s not uncommon for one positive case of COVID-19 in the school to affect dozens of students. Our goal is to mitigate the spread of the virus whenever a case is reported and our schools are quarantining all students who are close contacts,” Mrs. Keener said.

A high point for the week came Monday, November 16, when Holy Trinity School, Bellevue, resumed in-person instruction. All students, faculty and staff who were cleared to return that day, did make it back to the classroom.

“We want to remind parishioners — especially our school families — that in order to sustain in-person instruction in our schools and uninterrupted celebration of Mass at our parishes, everyone needs to make the necessary sacrifice of staying home to the greatest extent possible. Even during the Thanksgiving holiday families are encouraged to meet and say a prayer of thanksgiving together virtually,” Mrs. Keener said.