Catholic School in Rockville Cancels Classes Amid Flu Outbreak

Closure allowed school to do deep cleaning, archdiocese spokeswoman says



St. Elizabeth Catholic School in Rockville canceled classes twice the week of Feb. 4 as many students fell ill with the flu, according to a message from a parish priest.

“The flu hit us hard this week at St. Elizabeth’s,” Monsignor J. Wilfrid Parent wrote in an email to the parish community.

Parent also informed parishioners that St. Elizabeth Catholic Church would be temporarily suspending distribution of the consecrated wine during Communion until flu season passes.

Chieko Noguchi, director of media relations for the Archdiocese of Washington, said St. Elizabeth closed school Wednesday because of the winter weather. The school closed Thursday to allow for a deep cleaning of the building in the wake of recent illnesses, she said.

Noguchi said the archdiocese recently sent out guidance to its parishes about how to prevent the flu from spreading in their communities.

“The archdiocese Office of Worship received quite a few inquiries about Communion, most regarding what to do with the sign of peace and receiving the blood of Christ from the cup,” she said.

The worship office advised priests that no one is obligated to shake hands during the sign of peace, and a bow, wave or similar gesture is appropriate, Noguchi said. The archdiocese also told priests to remind congregants to refrain from receiving the chalice if they were sick and said pastors could temporarily discontinue use of the cup at their discretion.

Noguchi said she doesn’t know of any other Catholic schools in the archdiocese that have closed because of illness.

St. Elizabeth Catholic School at 917 Montrose Road in Rockville enrolls about 585 students in preschool through eighth grade. The MoCo Show, a local blogger, first reported on the school closures this week.

A spokeswoman for Montgomery County Public Schools said some schools have been reporting an increase in student absenteeism over the last few weeks. However, MCPS has no way of determining exactly how many of those absences were because of the flu, spokeswoman Gboyinde Onijala said.

She said MCPS has been sharing information with parents and schools about staying healthy while sickness is going around.

Bethany Rodgers can be reached at

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