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Tucson school reports no COVID cases through pandemic

School credits expert advice, communication with parents
St. Michael's School
Posted at 3:24 PM, Aug 25, 2021
and last updated 2021-08-27 11:58:46-04

TUCSON, Ariz. (KGUN) — St. Michael’s School says since the start of the pandemic, there have been zero COVID-19 infections on its campus. The private K-8 school is located on Tucson’s east side, and has 270 students.

“We're one of the very few schools that have gone 18 months without any transmission on campus, without one person on campus having it,” said St. Michael’s School parent, Katie Bailey.

Parents and officials at St. Michael’s school tell KGUN9, it has had zero COVID-19 transmission on campus.

“In the beginning of the pandemic my son is an only child - he struggled emotionally. It was his birthday and the world shut down. 'Why can't we go the park? Why can't we do this?' -- he was only just turning seven,” said Bailey.

The world shifted for so many people like Bailey and her third-grade son Payton. Head of School Brendan Sullivan says he and many physicians and medical professionals, who were also parents at the school, came together to figure out how to mitigate COVID-19 as much as possible.

“We just followed recommendations along the way: masking, hand washing, and physical distancing, in particular, were the most important components of that. And then enacted with parents earnest communication about keeping their kids home if there are any signs of illness. Parents have responded so well to all of it. But in particular to be the first point of screening at home for health,” said Sullivan.

School nurse Erika Huff says school should be the safest place for children. She says the school’s measures and mitigation are that of a Swiss cheese model.

“From hand washing to distancing to masking to vaccines, those kind of fill in all the little gaps to make it so effective. It’s not just one thing that keeps us safe,” said Huff.

“They have done a lot of things that they think are pretty unique that other schools that aren't doing,” said Bailey.

Like giving lower-grade students six-foot-long yoga mats and providing dozens of handwashing stations outdoors.

“Every single time St. Michael's made a decision, it seems that every other school is lagging behind, and I think that might be part of the mitigation being so successful rather than waiting two or three weeks waiting for numbers to spike,” said Bailey.

And though the school’s efforts have been so successful thus far, Sullivan understands there is still a long year ahead where anything can happen.

“As well as we’ve done and as happy as we are with the results, we don’t know how this will play out in the next week, month, and beyond. We’re hopeful in doing our part to keep people healthy and safe. But we’re keeping our fingers crossed that the success continues,” said Sullivan.

Back for their second week of in-person learning, Sullivan says there are still no reports of COVID cases — but the school's mitigation efforts will continue throughout the school year.