St. Martha’s students return to classroom following a COVID-19 outbreak

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The entrance to St. Martha’s elementary school in Okemos during the school’s two-week quarantine. Credit: Matt Dwyer

Students at St. Martha’s school located at 1100 W. Grand River Ave. have transitioned back to the classroom following a two-week quarantine from a recent COVID-19 outbreak. The Catholic elementary school suspended in-person instruction on September 13.

“At present, the total number of positive tests among students and staff stands at eight.” said Principal Andrea Patton.

Six of the students who tested positive are in the grades kindergarten through second grade. The seventh is a sibling of a student, said Patton.

The school contained the outbreak following the suspension of in-person classes. 

To Patton’s knowledge, there have been no new positive results for students or staff since Thursday, September 17.

Students and staff returned from summer break August 18 with in-person classes. The school went into face-to-face instruction for four weeks before the mid-September outbreak. Patton had every intention of continuing face-to-face learning at the start of the two-week quarantine.

“We remain absolutely committed to providing in-person classroom instruction during this 2020-2021 school year,” Patton said. “The children need to be in school. And we will do everything we can to keep them and everyone safe while providing our students with an outstanding education.”

Going forward

As for COVID-19 safety protocols, Patton said staff made adjustments on cleaning procedures during the quarantine period. 

“This pause has given us an opportunity to do another thorough cleaning of the whole facility,” Patton said. “We also have looked again at our daily routines, and have made some minor changes to further enhance the separation of the students in the school and the adults who come to the church.”

The state of Michigan defines an outbreak as two or more cases. 

The Spartan Newsroom reached out to parents in the Okemos community’s Facebook group regarding the incident. No one responded before the time of publication.

St. Martha’s is four miles west of Michigan State University. There have been 1,250 MSU students who have tested positive for COVID-19 since August 24.

St. Gerard
Some students at St. Gerard elementary school in Lansing voluntarily switched to online instruction when a teacher tested positive for COVID-19 earlier in September. Of the 378 students and 30 faculty members at the school, 68 students and five faculty members quarantined. Their two-week quarantine ended September 21.