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Erie County singles out private school for COVID-19 spread

Posted at 11:38 PM, Mar 09, 2021
and last updated 2021-03-09 23:39:00-05

AMHERST, N.Y. (WKBW) — According to the Erie County Department of Health, despite lower positivity numbers, COVID-19 is still spreading through schools.

“We're still seeing high numbers in the schools. Our numbers now are as high as they were in earlier in the fall,” said Dr. Gale Burstein, the Erie County health commissioner.

Tuesday, the county pointed out one school in particular, St. Benedict School in Amherst. Burstein said, there's been nine positive tests, recently, and the county believes the virus spread through the school. The school has offered five-day a week in-person classes since September. Since the positive tests, the county recommended the school go virtual for 10 days. The school chose not to.

“It was important that we let the parents, the teachers, the other school staff who may not know about the cases at St. Benedict to know what is going on, so that they can make an informed decision as to whether or not they send their children,” said County Executive Mark Poloncarz.

According to a statement released by the principle of Saint Benedict she believes she did the best thing for her students.

I want to clarify that Dr. Lauren Nicholas called the school on Friday with a recommendation and not a mandate to close the entire school for 10 days. She stated that the decision was ours to make. The three classrooms that had more than one case of COVID in them were already quarantined.

That same day I met with an advisory committee of Medical Professionals, some of whom had previously served on my School Reopening Committee. I also spoke with my Parish Priest and used my experience to come to the decision that it was in the students best interest to be in school. We took a wait and see approach over the weekend. We have 330 students and 40 faculty members. We have had no positive cases in the last 3 days.

Parents have had the option of their students being 100% virtual since the first day of school in September. I am so grateful to my teachers and aides for making the commitment to the St. Benedict Students both in person and online. In school we use partitions, wear masks, have windows open and have room air purifiers. We also have been open since September , 5 days a week providing an excellent academic, spiritual and social education for our children.
MaryAlice Bagwell Principal St. Benedict School