‘Several’ new Lovett School graduates test positive for coronavirus

Lovett School’s Portman Middle School building opened in 2009 in northwest Atlanta.

Lovett School’s Portman Middle School building opened in 2009 in northwest Atlanta.

Several members of the Class of 2020 at the Lovett School in Buckhead have tested positive for the coronavirus, just days after the school held a drive-in graduation celebration, an official confirmed Saturday to The Atlanta Journal-Constitution.

In an email Friday to parents, Lovett Head of School Meredyth Cole and Head Nurse Shana Horan said the school was notified a graduating senior who had attended the drive-in festivities on May 17 had tested positive for COVID-19. Cole and Horan wrote to parents Saturday that the number of confirmed cases had grown to “several” students.

Lovett, like schools across the state, closed its Paces Ferry Road complex in mid-March and transitioned to online instruction amid the coronavirus outbreak. The prestigious private school also postponed its traditional graduation ceremony until late July.

» COMPLETE COVERAGE: Coronavirus in Georgia

It is unclear where the initial student contracted the virus or if the spread to other graduates occurred at the drive-in event or at private functions held off campus.

The student, who has not been identified, “was confined to his or her car while on campus,” Cole and Horan wrote Friday. But the student “later had company over for a graduation gathering, and then traveled out of town with friends.”

“To date, the student has reported only mild symptoms and is under isolation at home,” the email said. The conditions of other sickened students were not immediately known.

The coronavirus generally attacks older persons and people with pre-existing conditions more severely, but young people are not immune to the disease and can easily spread the virus to others.

Public health experts warn against large gatherings and urge people to wear masks, wash hands frequently and practice social distancing.

Lovett is a k-12 institution with more than 600 pupils in its high school, known as the “upper school,” and nearly 1,000 in its lower grades, according to its website.

Social media posts of the Lovett drive-in showed some students sitting together in a truck bed. Other photos showed groups of Lovett students together in close quarters after the event.

A Lovett spokeswoman declined on Saturday to make Cole available for an interview.

“Students and their families were confined to their cars during the parade, and the only attendees were about 75 school employees who were socially distanced along the road through campus to cheer the graduates as they drove by,” Lovett’s Courtney Fowler said in an email. “Any other events mentioned were not school-sanctioned, so we have no further information on those.”

Fowler declined to disclose how many students tested positive so far, or if any employees or relatives of the students had tested positive.

“Families of the students diagnosed with COVID-19 are working with the appropriate health care professionals and Departments of Health,” Fowler said.