Sheridan Coronavirus Update, 3/10/20

Dear Sheridan Families, 

As the coronavirus situation continues to evolve in our local area, we are closely monitoring new developments and putting plans in place to respond to different scenarios. Our goal is to keep our community as healthy as possible while ensuring continuity of our students’ learning. 

It remains difficult to predict how and when we might be directly affected. In an abundance of caution, Georgetown Day School closed today to sanitize its facilities after learning that the partner of a community member tested positive for the virus. School Without Walls and several D.C. charter schools closed yesterday under similar circumstances. All other schools in the area continue to operate normally while making case-by-case decisions on student trips, community events, and school programming. 

Here at Sheridan, we have been meeting daily to both plan for now and to plan ahead. Below is information that is critical to read and to act on so you are up-to-date on our plans and able to serve as partners with us in limiting the impact of coronavirus on our community. It is our hope that many of these plans will not be necessary, but in this unpredictable situation, we want everyone to be ready and able to adapt as needed. 

CURRENT STATUS

Prevention and Monitoring
At school, we continue to work closely with faculty, staff and our students to engage in healthy practices at school, including frequent handwashing, even more access to hand sanitizer, waves instead of handshakes, elbow covering for sneezes and coughs, and discouraging sharing of water bottles and food. Our cleaning company has increased the  frequency and scope of sanitizing within the building each day and will be performing additional sanitizing over the weekend. The administration continues to participate in national and local debriefings aimed at schools and is closely monitoring guidance from the CDC and local health departments. To date, we have had no reports of coronavirus exposure in our community. 

New Requirements
In prior communications, we shared steps families should be taking to limit the spread of viruses in our community. Please note we have now extended the length of time between the end of a fever, diarrhea or vomiting and the return to school to 48 hours

In addition to these important steps, we are now asking all community members to abide by the following additional guidelines: 

Complete an absence form for ALL absences, including illness, appointments and travel. It is crucial that we be able to track illness within our community so we have created a mechanism for families to report their child’s illness when they are absent from school. If your child will be absent from school for any reason, please complete this form by 9 am on the day of absence so we can quickly identify any illness clusters that develop. If your child is not in school and we do not have a form from you by 9am, we will be contacting you for information. 

Report exposure to coronavirus. If you or a family member has been exposed to a known case of coronavirus, please let school nurse Annie Wilcoxen know immediately and begin a self-quarantine for you and your child until cleared by the school for return. 

Limit travel to high-risk areas.  We respectfully ask Sheridan community members with travel planned to the CDC’s Category 2 or Category 3 risk destinations to cancel that travel. This includes travel by any close family member, not just students. If the travel is unavoidable, we ask that you report the travel to school nurse Annie Wilcoxen and observe the CDC’s recommendations for self-quarantining and social distancing for 14 days. 

We are also asking that families be mindful of domestic travel plans to areas with high incidences of coronavirus. Again, we ask that all members of the Sheridan community who travel to one of these areas contact Annie Wilcoxen before returning to school to determine if any precautions are necessary. 

Should a child be quarantined, we will work together to support their ongoing learning at home. 

Conferences & Conference Field Trips
Absent any significant changes, conferences will be held as scheduled this Thursday and Friday. 

In the event that we need to close, families will have the option to attend conferences via Google Meet or through a telephone call. Just to be prepared, please look for an email tomorrow morning (Wednesday) that will give you instructions for using Google Meet and the option to engage in a test run of it tomorrow afternoon so you are prepared to use Google Meet if needed for your child’s conferences. 

To limit our students’ potential exposure in community venues, the conference day field trips to SkyZone on Thursday and Artechouse on Friday have been cancelled. The After School Program will provide childcare and activities at Sheridan in its place as long as school is open. The After School Program staff will be in touch with the families who were registered for these outings this afternoon with more details on the new plans. Drop-in childcare will still be available for anyone who needs it during their conference times. 

PLANNING AHEAD

Remote Learning
While our hope is that any school closures would be limited to a day or two, in which case they would be treated like snow days, we have put plans in place to continue our students’ learning online if a closure lasts more than two days. Our teachers will be prepared to provide lessons, assignments and projects remotely and to engage with students in multiple ways, including video, group chats, email and more. 

A key factor in providing for our students from a distance is their access to technology at home. To help us plan, we are asking every family to complete this survey by TOMORROW (Wednesday, 3/11) at NOON. We are working hard to secure enough laptops and chargers so all students will have the ability to complete their work if they do not have ready access at home to the needed technology. 

Continuous Assessment
As we move through the next week and into Spring Break, we will continuously monitor developments and adapt our plans. We will keep you informed throughout this period whenever circumstances change and will be in touch during Spring Break to keep you updated about what you can expect when you return. We are rescheduling the Middle School Dance scheduled for Friday, April 3rd, but all other April events currently remain in place. Mountain Campus trips are on our radar screen and we are exploring our options should any changes need to be made. 

Website
Lastly, we have developed a webpage (Sheridan Coronavirus Information) where the Sheridan community can easily access this information in this letter, any updates, and resources that may be helpful as you plan and prepare yourselves. Please continue to monitor this page, News & Notes, and your email for additional information. 

If you have any questions, please don’t hesitate to contact me at jdonovan@sheridanschool.org or 202-362-7900.

Yours in health,

Jessica