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Villa Duchesne to remain closed for rest of week for 'hospital-grade' cleaning

The younger sister of the woman who is the state's first "presumptive positive" COVID-19 case attended classes Thursday and Friday, the school said

ST. LOUIS COUNTY, Mo. — Villa Duchesne will remain closed for the rest of the school week while the facility undergoes "hospital-grade" cleaning.

A statement from the school said the school is working with the St. Louis County Health Department to keep students and families healthy. Students were going to be on spring break from March 16-20, so the next time students will be at the school will be March 23.

Villa canceled Monday's classes after learning the woman who was the state's first "presumptive positive" test for COVID-19 was the older sister of a freshman student. The woman who tested positive is self-quarantined inside the family's Ladue home.

Her test results are being called "presumptive positive" because the test she was given was not FDA approved, but the results are being treated as a positive result. It was processed at a health lab in Missouri. Last month, the state health department received federal approval to run tests in its own health lab. 

On Monday, a school spokeswoman said the younger sister attended classes Thursday and Friday.

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The school's Sunday email said the freshman student and her father attended the school's Father-Daughter dance — which was held at the Ritz-Carlton Hotel in Clayton on Saturday night — before they learned of the diagnosis. The email said they left as soon as they learned the news.

In the email, the school asks anyone who attended the dance to be attentive to any symptoms and to seek medical attention if those symptoms appear.

The full statement canceling classes for the rest of the week is as follows:

"We continue to work closely with the St. Louis County Department of Health. The health and safety of our students, staff and their families is our primary concern. While County health officials are not recommending school closures, we have decided to cancel classes and school-related activities for the remainder of this week. We also have commissioned a hospital-grade cleaning of the school which will take place this week. This involves using special cleaning products and disinfecting every surface. The school buildings will be sanitized and ready for students to return on March 23 -- after our previously scheduled Spring Break.

For everyone who is part our school family, here is the important guidance we have received from St. Louis County health officials:

  • For anyone in our community who may have come into contact with members of the family who are not symptomatic, St. Louis County indicates that no special precautions need to be taken at this time.
  • Anyone who has questions or concerns, or is uncertain about exposure, should call the St. Louis County hotline at 314.615.2660.
  • Anyone who is experiencing symptoms should call the hotline immediately and await instructions at home.
  • All members of our community should take Normal precautions to avoid the spread of illness.

We will continue to work with St. Louis County and follow the recommendations of local and national health authorities.

Villa Duchesne and Oak Hill School is an independent, Catholic school for boys and girls age 3 - grade 6 and for young women grades 7 - 12 located in St. Louis, Missouri. Villa Duchesne and Oak Hill School has been educating children in the Sacred Heart tradition since 1929.

Alice Dickherber
Director of Marketing and Communications
Villa Duchesne and Oak Hill School"

Statement from Villa Duchesne on March 10:

"We have had to close school this week unexpectedly, but we want learning to continue! Our teachers are providing e-learning to our 7-12th grade students in classes where that is appropriate, so students will be learning remotely. 

Our principals worked with our Head of School to look at the calendar and find places in the schedule to recapture instructional time. 

We are finalizing the plan, but we will be able to build most if not all of the time into our existing schedule without adding additional days onto our school year. 

We began conversations among the faculty and school leadership about the potential for the coronavirus to impact the school year several weeks ago, and we are glad that we did. 

We look forward to welcoming our students back to campus on March 23."

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