By now you have likely consumed lots of information on the new coronavirus from a variety of sources. We are fortunate that our school family includes career professionals in public health and pandemic management, and we have spent the last week or so in conversations with them as well as Atlanta Public Schools and other local charters. We have held internal discussions with key team members to set up a proactive planning process and communicated with all faculty and staff about what needs to happen now and what we need to be prepared for. We take the health and safety of our school family very seriously and are thus making our response a high priority.
Our efforts generally fall into two general categories: 1) proactive steps to prevent the spread of any disease and 2) planning for continued learning in the event of a school closure.
Public health organizations have made it consistently clear that many of the preventive steps we should take are the same measures that should be a part of our daily routine: handwashing with soap and water for at least 20 seconds and frequently wiping down surfaces and contact points with a disinfectant. We have unfortunately been dealing with several incidents of bathroom vandalism at both campuses. Where necessary, we will be replacing bathroom soap dispensers with units that are tamper resistant to be sure hygienic essentials are always in place.
While regular attendance is always fundamental to any learning experience, now more than ever it is important to keep students home when they are sick. In this case, persistent coughing with or without a fever should be reason enough to keep your child at home. As we face this new threat it is further recommended that siblings of sick children stay home as well – even if they are not yet showing symptoms. Lastly, if you or your children come in contact with someone who has tested positive for this coronavirus or is suspected to be infected, it is important to stay home. In all cases, please take a moment to let us know so that we can appropriately track potential cases. We will also be closely monitoring absenteeism among both faculty/staff and students for upticks that may represent a trend.
Planning for a closure
Social distancing is a series of steps taken to slow the spread of a virus. Such measures can include school closures. There are currently no plans to close schools and it is by no means a certainty that this will happen, but it has been recommended that we prepare for such a scenario. We are working on an inventory of Chromebooks and chargers to send home with all students in grades 3-8 in the event of a closure, and we will use Google Classroom and other digital platforms as an interface. We will work over the coming weeks to develop just what that remote instruction can and should look like, and what additional solutions can be implemented for kindergarten – 2nd grade.
In the event the virus continues to spread locally, be prepared for additional changes in the way we operate. We ask your patience and understanding as we all navigate this as carefully and responsibly as possible. It is important that we stay as vigilant as possible, but I also want you to keep in mind that most people who become ill with this novel coronavirus will experience it as an asymptomatic or mild disease and recover. Up to this point children and teens seemed to be spared the brunt of severe complications.
You can find additional guidance from the Centers for Disease Control on coronavirus here.
As always, please feel free to reach out with any questions or concerns.