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St. Andrew's tells students to delay return from spring break

Maddy Lauria and Brad Myers
Delaware News Journal
Smyrna/Clayton Sun-Times

The threat of the new coronavirus has prompted St. Andrew's School in Middletown to suspend students' return from spring break until further notice.

As of Wednesday, one case of COVID-19 has been confirmed in Delaware.

St. Andrew's has been posting updates about its response to the outbreak on its website since late February, which included postponing events and spring preseason sports camps.

The school said it plans to begin a virtual teaching and learning program on March 23.

"Although we have no cases of the coronavirus on campus or within the current student body, staff, and faculty, we feel it is important and responsible to take these steps now to protect the health of the community, to honor the work and responsibilities of public health in Delaware, and to act before the coronavirus arrives and spreads," said St. Andrew's Daniel T. Roach Jr.

With the campus on spring break, the St. Andrew’s boys basketball team has been staying at a hotel near Christiana Mall for more than a week while playing in the DIAA Boys Basketball Tournament.

As the 18th seed in the 24-team field, the Saints defeated Smyrna, William Penn and Dickinson last week to advance to the semifinals for the first time in school history. Their next game is 7 p.m. Thursday at Dover High.

That game had been scheduled for the University of Delaware’s Bob Carpenter Center. But on Tuesday, UD told the Delaware Interscholastic Athletic Association that due to concerns over the coronavirus, no spectators would be allowed if the final games of the DIAA boys and girls tournaments were played at the Bob. So DIAA decided to move the games to high school gyms around the state.

“It hasn’t been too difficult for the boys,” said Terrell Myers, St. Andrew’s boys basketball coach and assistant dean of students. “They’re actually enjoying themselves, feeling like they’re independent. It has worked out better than I thought it would.”

Myers said spring break started Feb. 26. He said students playing on spring sports teams had been scheduled to return to campus on Thursday, and classes had been scheduled to resume March 18.

That’s a long break, “but these kids also go to class on Saturdays, so it evens itself out,” Myers said.

He said he hasn’t heard of a new reporting date. He also said the students haven’t been doing any work online during their break, and he doesn’t know if any online work will be instituted with the break being extended.

“We haven’t been at campus anyway, so it doesn’t really affect us,” Myers said.

Over the last week or so, the school asked faculty, staff and students to fill out a confidential questionnaire to provide travel plans and health updates. Original measures had included health screenings of all students who had plans to travel globally during their spring break vacation.

St. Andrew's is a private boarding school with just over 300 students. It was founded in 1929 and tuition for the 2019-2020 school year is listed at $62,280. Roach said the school offers financial aid to more than 45 percent of its student body.

The University of Delaware and at least two charter schools in northern Delaware — Great Oaks and Kuumba — also are taking precautions as more cases pop up in surrounding states.

The university has told students and staff to prepare for online-only classes while the charter schools, which share a building on French Street in Wilmington, are closed through the end of the week after a staff member returned from Asia and developed flu-like symptoms.

Contact reporter Maddy Lauria at (302) 345-0608, mlauria@delawareonline.com. Contact Brad Myers at bmyers@delawareonline.com.