During what can be a challenging and confusing time, I am reaching out to provide a status update on new developments related to coronavirus (COVID-19), and share some additional details about the actions we are taking and planning to protect our school community.
The health and safety of our students, staff, and families is our priority. While the total number of coronavirus cases in the U.S. remains relatively small, experts expect this number to grow as testing increases and more individuals seek care. Currently, the key recommendations from public health agencies to prevent the spread of coronavirus are regular, thorough handwashing and that symptomatic individuals remain home rather than going to work or school. We again echo this recommendation and ask that students with any signs of respiratory illness or flu-like symptoms be kept home as usual.
Beginning last night, our custodial staff is doing a thorough disinfectant cleaning of all surfaces with particular attention to desktops, doorknobs, drinking fountains, and bathrooms. We are in contact with the CDC and the department of public health to stay updated on the situation and take actions as needed. According to Seattle Public Health, if a student or staff person does not show symptoms of coronavirus but has been in close contact with someone who has tested positive for it, that person will be sent home immediately and be placed on a two week quarantine. If someone tests positive for COVID-19, we will follow the guidelines set forth by Seattle Public Health which will most likely involve closing the school for a certain length of time.
Our teachers are continuing to discuss how student learning can continue should our school be closed temporarily, and we are thankful for those extra days we have built in our schedule already for snow days, if we need them. We will communicate more details around what this will look like if it becomes necessary.
Finally, I want to take a moment to acknowledge the psychological impact of this situation. The organized worldwide response to coronavirus has been robust and generally encouraging. However, it has also been a challenge for our community to process. This New York Times article gives some good strategies on how to talk to children about coronavirus without raising the anxiety of anyone involved. The article discusses making sure you are managing your own anxiety before discussing coronavirus with your children.
I have been struck by the patience, support, and resilience I’ve already seen in our community as we tackle these challenges, so thank you. Should our school need to close or if the situation changes quickly, we will notify you directly via email and phone. If the situation remains stable, we will continue to update our community regularly.
Blessings, Mrs. Okabayashi