As the number of people with COVID-19 grows, a Detroit school staff member tests positive for the new coronavirus

A staff member from Osborn High School in the Detroit school district has tested positive for the new coronavirus, and more are exhibiting symptoms, Superintendent Nikolai Vitti said in an email to staff.

“As of tonight, other staff members have indicated they are demonstrating symptoms of COVID-19 from the school,” Vitti wrote in the email.

The staff member is now one of 33 people in Michigan who’ve tested positive for the virus, which causes COVID-19. The number increased from 25 on Friday. Symptoms include fever, coughing, sneezing, and shortness of breath.

The Detroit Public Schools Community District posted the information on its website Saturday. The news comes two days after Gov. Gretchen Whitmer ordered all schools in the state to close beginning Monday. The closure extends through April 5, and schools would reopen on April 6.

It also comes after two other metro Detroit school employees have tested positive for the coronavirus.

“The individual has been released from the hospital and is OK and is being self-quarantined at home,” Vitti said in his email.

“This will unfortunately not be our only case. It is likely that other individuals at schools or at the district level have or will develop COVID-19,” Vitti wrote. “If you think you have been exposed to COVID-19 and develop a fever and symptoms, such as cough or difficulty breathing, call your healthcare provider for medical advice.” 

Vitti wrote that the district isn’t in a position to require it, but he’s recommending that those in the Osborn High community self-quarantine for 14 days.

Denise Fair, chief public health officer for the city of Detroit, said in a statement that she supports the district’s policy of recommending self-quarantine for anyone who was present at Osborn last week “because of the possibility that they may have had primary contact with,” the diagnosed faculty member.

The city health department recommends that students and faculty who were physically in Osborn and had primary contact with the faculty member should quarantine for 14 days and see their physician on the earliest signs of symptoms.

“We do not recommend self quarantining for individuals who were not physically in Osborn school,” Fair said.

“Friends and family members of Osborn students who were never physically in the school did not have primary contact with the faculty member,” Fair said. “These are considered secondary contacts. The Detroit health department does not recommend quarantining people based on secondary contact. These individuals should watch for symptoms and see their doctor if they arise.”

Whitmer’s order to shut down schools affects nearly 1.5 million public school students, 537 school districts, and nearly 300 charter schools. Private schools are also affected. 

Districts across the state are rushing to limit the negative effects of school closures with online lessons to prevent learning loss and adjusted meal programs for children who depend on the nutrition they get at school.

By Saturday, there were more than 2,600 confirmed cases in the United States.