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Health and Wellness Update

Sunday, March 1, 2020

Dear Families,

We’ve written several times regarding the Coronavirus (COVID-19), but this week, this world-wide health situation has spread significantly and, over the weekend, locally.

We've been working closely with our local and national associations of independent schools as well as the Washington State Department of Health since the outbreak came to U.S. attention in January. As the situation has evolved, our leadership team has been meeting to plan for different scenarios, interventions and precautions.

Our goals include ensuring that we are:

  1. taking thoughtful precautions with cleaning and hygiene
  2. practicing proactive intervention when students or faculty show signs of illness
  3. preparing for recommendations that could include school closures or mandated quarantines.

We will continue to be guided by the best information available from public health authorities, including the U.S. Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), the Washington State Department of Health and the Department of Children, Youth and Families.

The CDC continues to state the risk is “low” for the general public in Washington and the United States. The number of confirmed cases in the State of Washington as of noon today is at six. It is, however, likely that the virus will spread further in the U.S. and in King County.

Given that this virus continues to stay at the top of the news, it seemed wise to reiterate the ways that families can help us keep everyone safe:

  1. Please closely monitor flu-like symptoms at home. If any member of your family does not feel well, take their temperature. If there are signs that you or your child is running a temperature (100 or above), please stay home. Remain home until fever-free for 24 hours. If symptoms persist, consult your health care provider.
  2. If you keep your child home due to a fever, please let us know that is the reason. Please email your teacher and notify the front desk: 425-827-8708.
  3. It is important to remember that COVID-19 is not at all connected with race, ethnicity, or nationality. Sharing accurate information is one of the best things we can do to keep rumor and misinformation from spreading. Educate your child about the disease in a calm, developmentally appropriate manner. NPR put out the following link to help families discuss the virus with their children: Talking to your kids about Coronavirus.
  4. Educate yourself regarding ways that you can best protect your family. The best information sites are the Washington State Department of Health and Public Health – Seattle and King County.
  5. As you prepare for business or spring vacation travel, please monitor the CDC's recommendations for precautions during your travel as well as recommendations for health upon your return.
  6. Please stay in open communication with the school regarding any possible exposure and practice thoughtful caution if you think you or your family has been exposed to someone who has been diagnosed with Coronavirus.

Here is what the school is doing:

  1. We’ve re-emphasized personal hygiene practices that are known to be effective in reducing the spread of viruses in schools and provided adequate supplies for good hygiene, including clean and functional handwashing stations, soap, paper towels, and alcohol‐based hand sanitizer:
    1. Students have been supported to frequently hand wash with soap and water for at least 20 seconds, especially after using the bathroom, before eating, and after students blow their nose. If soap and water are not readily available, students are encouraged to use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer with at least 60% alcohol.
    2. We’ve reminded students to avoid touching their eyes, nose, and mouth with unwashed hands.
    3. We’re practicing covering our coughs or sneezes with a tissue, then throwing the tissue in the trash and cleaning hands with soap and water or hand sanitizer (if soap and water are not readily available).
  2. We are taking the temperature of every student who comes to the office feeling ill. As is our standard practice, students who display a temperature will not return to class and will be sent home. Families will be asked to keep their child home until they are fever-free for 24 hours. This always means that a child sent home with a fever should not return the next day.
  3. We are now asking families to answer two questions when a child displays a fever at school. This will indicate possible exposures which can be helpful in limiting the spread of any virus in our community.
    1. Has anyone else in your household been running a fever in the past days?
    2. Has anyone in your household travelled outside of the area in the last two weeks?
  4. Schools have been advised to prepare for the possibility of being closed due to the spread of the Coronavirus in the local community. In such an event, we will pay close attention to the guidance of public health authorities. In a similar vein, we’d like to ask each of you to begin considering plans for your family if schools are asked to close. If the interruption is minimal, we will treat it as we do snow days, but we are also working with our faculty on ways to provide sustained learning opportunities at home if the school were to be closed for a longer period. We are exploring what this will look like and will communicate further as plans unfold.

I know that this is a lot of information to digest. However, we will navigate this challenge best if we are unified in our approach and communicative with one another. Thank you for your partnership.

In wellness and community,

Julie