3 Jewish schools in southwest Houston closed Thursday after possible coronavirus exposure

Administrators working with Health Dept. to determine next move

HOUSTON – A teenage girl from New York who has been staying with Houston family appears to have coronavirus. She is considered presumptive positive until confirmed by the Centers for Disease Control.

The Houston host family is connected to three separate Jewish schools in southwest Houston. All of the schools -- Torah Girls Academy, Yeshiva Torat Emet and Torah Day School -- were closed Thursday.

“Right now we have a few schools that are practicing an over-abundance of caution, and closing for the day,” said Taryn Baranowski, Chief Marketing Officer for the Jewish Federation of Greater Houston.

The Jewish Federation does not run the schools but serves as an information clearinghouse for Jewish events and services.

On Thursday, it was unclear when the schools would re-open, but Baranowski said school administrators would convene with city health officials to determine that schedule.

Baranowski said the teenager from New York, along with the host family, were self-quarantined in a Houston home.

The exact link between the schools and the teenager is not clear; however, an administrator for one of the schools posted the following message:

"Leadership from Torah Girls Academy was notified on the evening of March 11th that a student had an out-of-town visitor beginning on March 6th, who has since tested with a presumed confirmation of Coronavirus (COVID-19) from the State of Texas. Our understanding is the State considers the test result “presumptive” and is sending the test to the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) for confirmation.

This person did not visit a school or synagogue during her trip. Once this person became symptomatic, self-quarantine procedures were immediately followed by the individual as well as those who were in close contact with this individual.

The school has been and will remain in regular communication with parents of students and community members around this issue. It will work with and follow recommendations from the City of Houston Health Department.

Any questions about case specifics, processes or community health information or recommendations should be directed to the City of Houston Health Department (houstontx.gov/health/).

I just wanted to confirm with you that the person who has since been tested with a presumed confirmation of Coronavirus did not visit our synagogue. The family who hosted her has been self-quarantined since she began exhibiting symptoms and has not been in our synagogue since then."