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Off-campus Halloween party infects dozens of students at St. Pius X Catholic High School

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Off-campus Halloween party infects dozens of students at St. Pius X Catholic High School

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Atlanta, GA — A private school in DeKalb County will be conducting virtual learning until the end of the week after an off-campus Halloween party resulted in dozens of students being infected with the COVID-19 virus.

Maureen Smith, a spokesperson for the Archdiocese of Atlanta, said a student at St. Pius X Catholic High School reported a case on Nov. 2.

“They indicated over the weekend they attended a party. It wasn’t schools sponsored,” Smith said. “We had to identify anyone else who may have been at the party.”

The school identified more students who were affected. School officials learned that a sophomore at the school had hosted a Halloween party at their home, an email from School President Steve Spellman to parents said. The email was sent on Nov. 4.

“The parents were present, kept track of who showed up, and even tried to provide a level of care by taking the temperatures of the kids as they arrived,” Spellman wrote. “To date, we have a list of almost 80 of our students who were present, but that number increases daily.”

Fox 5 Atlanta reported Nov. 10 that 40 students tested positive for COVID-19 in the days following the event. Smith said on Nov. 11 the school has identified 49 active cases. The school assumes most of those cases are related to the Halloween party.

“Additionally, there were rather large junior and senior parties, and we are monitoring the results of many of those students,” Spellman wrote in his Nov. 4 email.

In his email, Spellman chastised parents for off-campus behavior.

“I am disappointed that despite the extraordinary effort and exorbitant expense to the school to ensure a safe environment, we have instances where safety protocols are totally ignored off school grounds,” he wrote. “Please know that this is not a political or ideological undercurrent or a subject of debate, but one of pure caution to protect our 1,100 students and 150 faculty and staff.”

When asked if there would be any consequences for the parents who hosted the event, Smith said, “It was not a school event.”

She did not know if any students had become seriously ill as a result of contracting COVID-19.

“The school does have a protocol,” Smith said. “They have their temperatures checked. They wear masks. They have the windows open. In school, we do have all of these protocols in place, and, yes, students have to abide by them.”

She said the school is undergoing a deep cleaning.

“We’re hoping on Monday we can bring everyone back safely,” Smith said.

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