News & Politics

Gonzaga High School President Tests Positive for Covid-19

Father Stephen Planning is self quarantining after symptoms appeared Friday

Gonzaga College High School. Photograph courtesy of Wikimedia Commons.
Coronavirus 2020

About Coronavirus 2020

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The president of Gonzaga College High School in the District has tested positive for Covid-19, according to an email Monday morning to the school’s community from chief operating officer Stephen Neill. Gonzaga President Father Stephen Planning, according to the email, tested positive Sunday after experiencing a low grade fever that began Friday afternoon. “He is feeling relatively well,” according to the email, “is in OK spirits, has been resting, and is doing what is urgently required from all of us during this time — namely self quarantining.”

Read the full email below:

Dear Gonzaga Community,

I’m writing with news that has perhaps felt inevitable, which is that a member of the Gonzaga community has tested positive for COVID-19.

That colleague, it is my sad duty to report — and I do so with his permission and full encouragement — is Gonzaga’s President Fr. Stephen Planning.

At present, he is showing only mild symptoms, namely a low grade fever, which started on Friday late afternoon. He woke up Saturday still feeling feverish, and at his doctor’s order went to the hospital. After the flu and other causes were ruled out, a coronavirus test was given on Saturday night. That test came back positive late last night (Sunday).

He is feeling relatively well, is in OK spirits, has been resting, and is doing what is urgently required from all of us during this time — namely self quarantining. The only reason I’m writing this note instead of him is because he’s focused on resting and getting in touch with individuals he had direct contact with in recent days, including on recent travel to Florida.

If you’re one of those people, please follow the CDC’s guidelines and recommendations for monitoring for symptoms. Per those guidelines, you should contact your physician if you develop a fever or other symptoms associated with this virus.

I know how distressing this news is to each of you on. It is for me too. Sadly, while this may be the first time this virus reaches someone for whom we care, it likely will not be the last.

Now more than ever, our community must take extremely seriously the public health responsibility of social distancing. It’s a critical action each of us can do to mitigate the rate at which the virus spreads — this is of critical importance to the health of each other and especially vulnerable populations.

We are working on more communications, but we ask for your patience — we’re doing our very best in an extraordinarily difficult situation. Father Planning also asks that you please not reach out to him so that he can focus on communicating with those he needs to be in touch with.

As this news demonstrates, this situation for our Gonzaga community and all communities is going to get harder before it gets better. But just as I am hopeful Fr. Planning will make a full recovery, I remain faithful that this will eventually pass for our school and society.

We will continue to keep you updated as we move forward together. May God bless each of you and the Gonzaga community.

Stephen Neill
Chief Operating Office

Senior Writer

Luke Mullins is a senior writer at Washingtonian magazine focusing on the people and institutions that control the city’s levers of power. He has written about the Koch Brothers’ attempt to take over The Cato Institute, David Gregory’s ouster as moderator of NBC’s Meet the Press, the collapse of Washington’s Metro system, and the conflict that split apart the founders of Politico.