Parent at San Diego Jewish Academy tests positive for coronavirus

San Diego Jewish Academy
(Courtesy of San Diego Jewish Academy)

Head of school says parent did not travel out of the country


The head of the San Diego Jewish Academy, an independent private school in the Carmel Valley area, announced Friday evening, March 13, that a parent of students has tested positive for coronavirus.

The parent, who has three children in first-, third- and sixth-grade, did not travel out of the country and started to feel ill “a few days ago and is uncertain” how the virus was contracted, head of school Chaim Heller said in an email to families.

The email said the academy is in the process of reporting the case to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and San Diego County Public Health Services.

“We will continue to seek direct information and guidance from health officials, but wanted to share this information now because, due to the magnitude of what they are dealing with, it may be some time before we connect,” Heller said in the note.

Heller told the Union-Tribune on Saturday, March 14, that the parent had been at the school in the past week. Heller did not say whether the parent is the mother or the father. He said the parent’s children “were in many rooms” of the academy, interacting with friends “in a regular, non-distance manner” in recent days.

“Effectively, they could have been with anyone from the school” — from the academy’s preschool through high school, he said.

A county spokesman said Saturday morning, March 14, it was too early to confirm if the parent is one of the three new COVID-19 cases that county officials announced Friday, March 13. Two additional positive cases have also since been reported, a student at University of San Diego and another at San Diego State University.

County spokesman Michael Workman said laboratories and the medical community are required to notify the health department of positive coronavirus cases. Schools and businesses are not legally required to report them, but Workman said schools and businesses have been “very cooperative” in contacting the health department in the wake of the outbreak.

“It’s been all hands on deck,” Workman said.

Founded in 1979, the San Diego Jewish Academy is a K-12 school with an enrollment of more than 600 students.

Heller said school officials closed the academy after classes on Thursday, “having had no known or confirmed cases at the time.”

More information about how long the academy might be closed will be forthcoming, Heller’s email said.

Most schools in the region will be closed beginning Monday, March 16, for a few weeks as a way to slow the spread of the virus.

“Our community is so strong and supportive of each other,” Heller said in an email to the Union-Tribune. “At these times especially we all find great comfort in that.”

-- Rob Nikolewski is a reporter for The San Diego Union-Tribune