Marin Catholic High School closes after large party, 'countless' reports of student sleepovers

MARIN, Calif. (KGO) -- A private Catholic high school in Marin has closed campus just weeks after opening, because of what the principal calls "disturbing news" in a letter to the school community.

In June, four Marin Catholic High School students tested positive for COVID-19.

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A parent tells ABC7, the students tested positive after a sleepover.

Now four months later, campus is closed after reports of "countless concerns about student sleepovers and a "large party" involving students over the weekend.

"We know the police was present and it sounds like there was up to 100 people there," said Dr. Matt Willis, Marin County's Health Officer, who explained that "if we want to get children back into school, we need to do even more to prevent transmission in the community."

"This party in the Marin Catholic community was an illustration of the wrong way of seeing this."

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COVID-19 cases are skyrocketing in Oakland, especially East Oakland, and officials are blaming it on parties and social gatherings.

A Marin Catholic parent, who wants to remain anonymous, said this to ABC7 News reporter, Kate Larsen, about the gatherings: "I think it's irresponsible parenting. I think teachers are putting their lives on the line to teach our children and the least we can do is to protect our community by making safe choices, and this is not a safe choice."

"You're endangering every single person in our community."

The parent expressed concern that the gatherings, which are against health orders, could spread coronavirus to different schools and communities, since many Marin Catholic siblings attend other schools throughout Marin County and in San Francisco.

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"It was time to pause," said Chris Valdez, the principal of Marin Catholic.

On Monday, after learning about the risky behavior outside of school, he sent a letter to families and made the decision to suspend in-person learning for two weeks. Students had just returned to campus at the beginning of October.

"Let's give everybody sort of a wakeup call and recognize that we are fully interconnected, and everything we do both inside of school and outside of school has impact on the community," said Valdez.

Principal Valdez says there are no new known COVID-19 cases at the school.

He expects hybrid learning on campus to resume Nov. 2nd.

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