St. Joseph’s Preparatory School’s nationally-ranked football team won’t be playing this weekend after a cluster of cases of the coronavirus forced the Philadelphia Jesuit high school for boys and young men to transition to virtual learning through at least the end of October.
St. Joe’s Prep announced the transition to all virtual learning in a letter to families on Thursday. Nearly a third of the Prep’s 904 students and numerous staff are in quarantine after at least five students tested positive for COVID-19 over the past week, spokesman Bill Avington said.
“After consultation with the Philadelphia Department of Health, St. Joseph’s Prep has chosen to suspend in-person instruction until Monday, Nov. 2,” the letter, which was posted to the school’s website, said. “This decision has been made after learning of multiple students testing positive for COVID-19, which has led to approximately 30% of students and colleagues quarantining.”
The school, which is located along Girard Avenue in North Philadelphia, draws students from around the region with 172 different zip codes represented by students in ninth to 12th grades. They have been learning using a hybrid model that divides students in Crimson and Gary cohorts.
“We consider the health of our school community to be of extreme importance and will be working to help mitigate the spread of COVID-19,” the letter said. “It is our intention to have in-person learning as often as possible but we must continue to adapt to the challenges created by this pandemic.”
Along with moving temporarily away from any in-person instruction, the Prep is putting its football program, other sports and activities on hold until at least next Friday, Oct. 30.
The undefeated Hawks’ football team is the top-ranked high school team in Pennsylvania and in the Top 5 of MaxPreps’ national ranking. The sons of former NFL stars Marvin Harrison and Jeremiah Trotter are on the team.
The Hawks were set to play Bishop Sycamore from Columbus, Ohio, at Cardinal O’Hara this Saturday. They could still be cleared to play next Saturday (Halloween) against Archbishop Wood at the Bucks County school.
The Prep urged parents of all students to observe their sons’ health for symptoms of coronavirus and to get tested if needed.