COVID-19 – Update #3

March 6, 2020

Dear SDFAS Community,

As you are likely aware, the fluid evolution of COVID-19 led on Wednesday led to the declaration of a state of emergency in California. Here at SDFAS, as stated in our communications of Friday, January 31st and Friday, February 28th, we remain vigilant and continue to monitor and follow the guidelines, recommendations and directives of the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) and World Health Organization (WHO) as well as those of state, county, and city agencies:  California Department of Public Health, San Diego County Health and Human Services Agency (Public Health) and San Diego Unified School District.

Please be reminded that the coronavirus has a reported 14-day incubation period. In my capacity as Head of School, I would like to reiterate to every person in or connected to our school community that, out of an abundance of caution, if you or your family (or a relative or friend with whom you have been in proximate physical contact) has returned recently from China/Hong Kong/Iran/Italy/Japan/Singapore/South Korea/Taiwan/Thailand/France/Germany/Spain, please strongly consider self-imposing a 14-day voluntary quarantine from the date of your return to San Diego or date of contact with another traveler, and this if you have recently traveled to any officially declared Level 1, Level 2 or Level 3 country, state or area. If you decide to take this action, please contact your child’s teachers and division director. Students’ grades will in no way be impacted during an absence and our teachers will do all they can to make sure work and materials are sent electronically.

Please regularly consult the CDC’s travel advisories as an increasing number of countries, states and areas are being placed under travel warnings or restrictions due to the coronavirus. Beyond the CDC, for up-to-date and simple-to-read statistics on the number of reported cases per country and in states around the United States, please visit the website Worldometers.

The most effective way to stay healthy and minimize the spread of infectious disease is for every child and adult at school, at home and in the community to follow basic health best practices:

● Enforcing great hygiene, like washing hands thoroughly and covering up coughs/sneezes.

● Ensuring all faculty, staff, and students stay at home until fully recovered if feeling ill.

● Practicing social distancing: avoid shaking hands (maybe bump elbows instead?) and avoid kissing each other on cheeks when we greet and take leave.

At school, our dedicated custodial team has intensified cleaning and disinfecting protocols on campus. They are now using a CDC-recommended light bleach solution that is sprayed as a mist on all regularly touched surfaces as part of nightly cleaning. Visual color posters indicating how to properly do hand-washing have been posted in all classrooms and bathrooms across campus. Hand sanitizer and non-chemically dangerous sanitizing wipes are available in all classrooms, at all lunch areas and used regularly by students and teachers. Finally, beginning this coming Monday, reminders will go out daily at 7:30 am from the Head of School reminding all adults to remind all children to regularly wash their hands at school throughout the day.

SDFAS continues to deepen preparations for a range of possible contingencies, including school closures. In such an eventuality, we will proceed in a manner not dissimilar from what other public and independent schools have begun doing all over the world: incorporating a variety of instructional strategies, distance learning lesson designs, teleconferencing, video and digital platforms, to provide continuity of instruction and an ongoing pedagogical connection with students. As stated in our previous communications, in all scenarios, we are committed to providing you with clear, timely information.

Talking to our children:

 Tips for talking with children about the coronavirus from the New York Times may be helpful to you and your family.

● Click here for an excellent 3-minute audio explanation and comic visual approach to sharing information about the Coronavirus with your children.

Plans for home and work:

 This NPR article may provide a helpful starting point.

If you would like to discuss your family’s circumstances or have questions, please don’t hesitate to contact a division director or me. In times like this, we remain particularly grateful for the strength and togetherness of our community. I will continue to be in touch as appropriate.

Mark E. Rosenblum, Head of School