(Fargo, ND) -- The COVID-19 bug has bit another institution in Fargo.
Parents and families of those who attend Shanley High School have been notified that the school plans to go to remote learning, albeit temporarily, due to a recent surge in Coronavirus cases found in all grades.
The letter, which can be read in it's entirety below, states that due to contact tracing and with the fear that almost every student could be exposed, it made sense to go to remote learning for the time being. The letter also details the hope that with Easter break located in the time frame of remote learning, students would not miss to much in-person learning time (only about four school days), and that this would help mitigate the spread and get things back to normal as soon as possible.
The school has not reported a single outbreak of the virus previously, and has had proper guidelines in place since allowing students back in classrooms and on campus.
Greetings Shanley Families,
As a follow up to the announcement of Shanley moving temporarily to distance learning, we want to elaborate further on this difficult decision.
Throughout the school year, all schools have been operating with a possibility of a temporary closure due to the COVID-19 pandemic. This was made clear from the NDDOH, NDDPI, and the Governor’s office. We have made tremendous efforts to prevent this from occurring. Shanley High School was able to preempt the fall spike by switching to a hybrid model in order to maintain some in-person learning and keep activities going. Our elementary schools and middle school were also able to prevent school closures by taking steps to eliminate potential spread when positive cases arose. Overall, JPII Schools has been very successful in delivering high quality education during a global pandemic at all levels with more in-person learning and consistency than most schools in our region and nation. This is something that all stakeholders should recognize and be thankful for. It has not been easy. It has not been without interruption. We are close to the end, but obviously, we are not done yet.
With safely precautions being reduced in cities, counties, and states, more people are participating in activities that carry greater risk of transmission. Examples of these riskier activities are attending larger gatherings, having close contact with other households, dining with other households, forgoing masks, etc. Cass County’s 14-day positivity rate has recently jumped from 2% in early March to almost 8%. Positivity levels at this level are concerning as cases can quickly balloon like last fall.
The good news is that vaccinations are rolling out. The goal line is in sight, so let’s hold the ball until we cross that line! The most vulnerable citizens have had the opportunity to get vaccinated. Vaccine access for the general population of adults is arriving. While the mortality rate for younger populations is low, there is a great unknown of long term effects. One former ND State Health Officer stated to school leaders that we don’t want anyone, young or old, to contract COVID-19.
On the morning of March 29th, the number of COVID-19 positive students at Shanley jumped dramatically with over a tenfold increase from the previous week. Consultation was made with public health experts. The staggering increase of cases indicates that numerous students were likely unknowingly positive while in school and in a variety of activities throughout last week. Based on expert advice, a temporary closing of school and activities was an important step to mitigate further spread.
With confirmed positive cases in each grade level, across a wide range of classrooms, and across a variety of activities, there is a possibility that most students could be considered a close contact. Close contacts can refer to the following link: https://www.health.nd.gov/what-do-if-you-are-close-contact
This temporary closure of the school building (learning will continue) is a necessary step to stop the spread and help preserve upcoming events (activities, prom, graduation, etc). The timing of this occurrence is fortunate to align with Easter break as there are only four full school days that are switched to distance learning and there are limited events during this time.
There are steps each family can help prepare for a full return to in-person learning and activities to ensure we can finish the school year and prevent further interruptions. Continue practicing safety precautions such as social distancing and proper mask wearing when around others outside of your household. Additionally, there are free testing opportunities in the community ( https://www.health.nd.gov/diseases-conditions/coronavirus/testing-care/where-get-covid-19-test ). Getting a free rapid test before returning to school and activities can help reduce the chance of bringing COVID-19 into the school building and activities.
Thank you for your continued support as we navigate these last two months of this school year.
Jon Spies - Principal Shanley High School