First off, I appreciate the way everyone is continuing to practice good flu prevention measures and listening to facts over responding to fear related to the novel coronavirus.
We are teaching a couple of habits on which we could use your help with reminders and emphasis at home:
- Greetings: Instead of handshakes and hugs, we are greeting each other with a kind word, eye contact, and maybe an elbow touch (but no contact more than that).
- Hand washing: We have always emphasized hand washing but are now asking everyone (staff, students, and volunteers) to wash their hands as a first step upon entering the building to work.
- Cleaning surfaces: For the important times around eating and after long-use, we are asking all students to wipe down their desks before lunch and again at the end of the day.
- Other general flu prevention measures:
- Avoid touching your face
- Avoid close contact with people who are sick
- Get your flu shot – it’s never too late
- Stay home if you’re feeling sick.
- Call your doctor and let them know your symptoms and travel history.
Beyond this important habit building, we are continuing to monitor and respond to local health directives while staying out in front of our own planning.
- Trips and travel: We are making decisions case-by-case based on our best assessment of additional risk that might be incurred from a trip. For instance, a group might be fine visiting a local gallery, but we are postponing travel to very congested places with lots of tourists like the American Museum of Natural History. Unfortunately, this means that the always anticipated eighth grade trip to Washington DC, scheduled for next week, is not going to happen this year.
- Cleaning: The maintenance team is being extra vigilant in their nightly cleaning routines. Teachers and students are pitching into the effort by wiping down all surfaces with disinfectant wipes. We have ordered supplies even beyond our usual stockpile of hand sanitizer, wipes, soap, tissues, and towels.
- Virtual school: There are no plans at this time to close Harlem Academy or other NYC schools and if the coronavirus plays out like past challenges of this sort, we will not need to suspend in-person classes. However, we always want to be prepared, so Ms. Davis and Ms. Weintraub are working on plans so that learning could continue with take-home assignments and some communication between teachers and students should we need to close.
I know this situation has added a layer of challenge and uncertainty for families. I hope that our communication gives you assurance that we attend to safety and well-being with the same vigilance to our educational mission as they are both about looking out for what's best for our kids!
As always, please reach out to me, Ms. Davis, Ms. Weintraub, or your child's teacher with questions or comments.
Enjoy the day.