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COVID-19 Update

The Rhoades School is tracking news and information about the spread of coronavirus (COVID-19) in our region. This is a quickly evolving situation; please check this page regularly for updates.


March 13, 2020

Dear Rhoades School Families,

In light of the most recent coronavirus (COVID-19) developments, we have made the difficult decision to close school starting Monday, March 16, and transition to distance learning. Although we have been fortunate NOT to have had a confirmed case of COVID-19 within our school community, we are proceeding as a result of the rapidly changing public health outlook and increasing student absenteeism, which has compromised authentic and engaged learning. Per the preparations we referenced in previous communications, we will transition to distance learning and continue as long as the situation dictates. We have not yet determined a return date. Please carefully review our Distance Learning Continuity Plan below.

We recognize that these times are very stressful. Rest assured that our entire team is working incredibly hard to not only ensure health and safety, but also to provide continuing, high quality education. We understand that this will take some adjustment, but we will work closely with you as educational partners for your children. We ask for your patience and understanding in these trying times. Let us all work together on behalf of our children.

Reminder: Travel Guidance and 14-day Self-Quarantine Triggers

In anticipation of regular school resuming circumstances permitting, we are advising that any students or staff members who travel to an area under the CDC’s Travel Health Notice Level 3 (or with household members who travel to these locales) OR who travel on ANY cruise ship –  NOT come to school for a 14-day period from the date of their return.

We also ask that, once we return, if any student or staff member is alerted to having been exposed to someone with a confirmed case of COVID-19 (second-hand exposure), they immediately seek medical consultation, self-quarantine/do not return to campus for 14 days, and notify the school.

Distance Learning Continuity Plan

As outlined in last week’s communication, we have developed plans to provide support for all program levels, as we continue with our current curriculum and shift teaching techniques to a distance learning scenario. We will phase in our Distance Learning Continuity Plan to ensure your family is supported.

On Monday, March 16, the school will close for all students. Teachers will use the morning to collect all workbooks, journals, and learning resources that students might need for the weeks of instruction. The afternoon will be used for faculty meetings, training, and planning. On Tuesday, March 17, you are invited to campus from 8:00 AM – 11:00 AM to pick up materials from your child’s teachers. By the end of business on Wednesday, March 18, we will begin sharing with you distance learning activities and provide direction on how you can best support your child’s learning. Learning activities will include a combination of independent assignments, adaptive learning platforms already being used by students, and live-streamed sessions (using common video conferencing tools like Zoom) to maintain the continuity of learning. It is expected that students in Grades K-2 will need higher levels of support than students in Grades 3-8. The primary tools for communication between teachers and families will be the Alma Portal and email.

This school closure means that any planned school events and all extracurricular activities from now through Spring Break will be cancelled and rescheduled. 

Since the public health situation surrounding the emergence of COVID-19 began to evolve, we have been closely monitoring the advice of experts, and our leadership team has been convening daily to assess the current situation and review our contingency protocols. It was with intensive, fact-based deliberation that we have made this difficult decision and mobilized our distance learning protocols. We are extremely grateful for the support, resiliency, and compassion of our parents, teachers, and staff as we all work together to make sure we are doing what is right to maintain a healthy and safe school community. We will keep you updated on new developments as they relate to our school community while our campus is closed.

I want to thank those of you who have emailed me over the past few days. While I have not responded personally to all of you due to the volume of emails, I do read everything you send me and appreciate your support and feedback.

Sincerely,

Regina McDuffie, PhD
Head of School


March 12, 2020

Dear Rhoades School Families,

We appreciate your ongoing partnership as we continue to navigate the COVID-19 virus and daily developments. At this time, The Rhoades School will remain open, as we have not experienced a reported case of coronavirus or second-hand exposure in our immediate school environment. We will base our decision to close school at the advice and direction of our local and state health departments and the CDC.

As a school community, we remain vigilant about taking appropriate actions and precautions to safeguard the health and welfare of our school community, while still maintaining as much educational continuity and consistent routine as possible for our students.

If our school needs to close, we are fully prepared to provide distance-learning support for all students. This will include a combination of independent assignments, adaptive learning platforms already being used by students, and live-streamed sessions using common video conferencing tools like Zoom. Our goal is to provide students a distance learning experience that meets the rigor and the richness of their regular Rhoades School experience, but that does not necessarily replicate a traditional school day.

We understand that some parents may choose to keep their children home from school for voluntary quarantine. For those students, we will provide access to some on-line learning tools but since we are not closed, teachers will not provide a full distance-learning curriculum or homework packets.

Field trip updates will be sent next week to specific grade levels. Please continue to check your email and our school website for updates.

Thank you for your partnership during this challenging and continuously changing time.

Best regards,

Regina McDuffie, PhD
Head of School


March 5, 2020

COVID-19 Update: Self-Quarantine Policy, Preparedness, and Distance Learning

As you likely are aware, there has been increasing focus on the coronavirus threat across the country, with more states and counties declaring a “state of emergency” to deploy resources to accelerate preparation. While preparation is much needed, we do want to note that the CDC is still characterizing the overall risk of exposure for the general public as “relatively low,” even in communities where presence of the virus is elevated.  We are fortunate in that we have not yet had any reported cases of coronavirus in our immediate school environment.

That said, the safety, security, and well-being of our students and extended community are our top priorities. We continue to closely monitor the local coronavirus developments and prepare ourselves for a variety of contingencies. We are committed to a fact-based decision making process that includes using national, state, and local official sources to inform these critical decisions.

Out of an abundance of caution, effective immediately, we are also now advising that any students or staff (or those with members of their household) who have traveled to an area under the CDC’s Travel Health Notice Level 2 or above (click this link for specific countries affected, as this may change frequently) NOT come to school for a 14 day period from the date of their return — Please note that this is not a local or national health authority guidance but rather our school policy. We understand that this may pose a significant inconvenience, but please know that we make this request with the well-being of our community as our priority.

In the event that we do receive reports of a confirmed coronavirus case within our school community (student or staff) OR state or local officials require area schools to close due to a coronavirus outbreak in the community at large, we are prepared to initiate “deep cleaning/disinfecting” protocols and temporary closure, as mandated.

If our school must be dismissed for an extended period, we have developed plans to provide distance learning support for all program levels. For elementary and above, this would include a combination of independent assignments, adaptive learning platforms already being used by students, and live-streamed sessions (using common video conferencing tools like Zoom) to maintain the continuity of learning. Our goal is to provide students a distance learning experience that meets the rigor and the richness of their regular school experience, but that does not necessarily replicate a traditional school day.

Also, to reiterate what we have previously shared as the universally advocated first line of defense, we continue to act with vigilance in promoting overall preventative health hygiene to minimize the spread of infectious diseases within our schools, including:

  • Reinforcing good hygiene practices, including thorough hand-washing and covering up coughs/sneezes
  • Continuing daily “wellness” checks of students and promptly sending students home if they show signs of illness
  • Ensuring all faculty, staff, and students who are feeling ill stay home until they recover
  • Continuing repeated cleaning of “high-touch” surfaces throughout the school day and in the evenings

During the school day, as questions or concerns come up from children who have heard news coverage of the virus, we are careful to reassure them. Here is a New York Times article that might be helpful if your child is feeling fearful about what they have heard.  Also, to help you prepare at home to prevent and/or respond to coronavirus exposure, here are some tips from the CDC.

We are extremely grateful for the support of our parents, teachers and staff as we all work together to make sure we are following best practices to maintain a healthy and safe community.

Should our school need to close, or if the situation changes quickly, we will notify you immediately.  If the situation remains stable, we will still continue to update you regularly on our preparations and readiness.


February 28, 2020

Steps we are taking, Illness Prevention and Planning, and Monitoring Coronavirus Developments

Dear Rhoades School Families,

As you are likely aware, on Tuesday, February 25, the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) gave a press conference updating the country on the current status of the coronavirus (COVID-19), and what steps should be taken moving forward. The CDC emphasized that there is not currently a coronavirus pandemic in the United States, and at this time the number of cases across the U.S. is relatively small. However, given how quickly the global situation is evolving, we are monitoring developments and will continue to reevaluate our steps and actions daily. Although we have no reported cases within our school communities at this time, we want you to rest assured that we are prepared and ready. Our planning and response will continue to be grounded in directives from the CDC, the World Health Organization (WHO), and local governmental organizations.

As a school, we are prepared for a range of possible contingencies, such as school closures, that may occur as this situation develops. In the event that school must be dismissed for an extended period of time, we want to assure you that we will incorporate a variety of instructional strategies to connect with the home. In all eventualities, we are committed to providing you with clear, timely communications about this fluid situation.

Of course, our highest priority is ensuring the health and safety of every member of our community. As we have emphasized in previous updates, the most effective way to stay healthy and minimize the spread of infectious disease is to follow basic health best practices like:

  • Enforcing great hygiene, like washing hands thoroughly and covering up coughs/sneezes.
  • Ensuring all faculty, staff, and students who are feeling ill to stay home until they recover.

In addition, we are also thinking ahead regarding the potential impact on spring break travel, upcoming school trips, and other non-typical school activities, should the situation escalate. An increasing number of countries are being placed under travel advisories due to the coronavirus. We ask that you stay informed of the CDC’s travel advisories, particularly because we cannot know what the status of the outbreak will be when spring break time arrives.

Given the level of media attention to the coronavirus, some children may become anxious and have concerns about the virus and its transmission. These tips for talking with children about the coronavirus may be helpful to you and your family. In addition, it’s important for families to make contingency plans and preparations at home. This NPR article may provide a helpful starting point to guide preparations both at home and work.

In times like this, we are particularly grateful for the strength and togetherness of our community. Please be assured that further communications from us will continue in the event new information directly impacts our school community.

Thank you,

The Rhoades school


February 10, 2020

Dear Rhoades School Families,

As news regarding the coronavirus threat continues to evolve, we want to reiterate and update you on the current policies we have in place to preempt exposure within our school communities. We continue to closely monitor this situation and align our response with guidance from local and national health agencies, as well as emerging information from within the education community.

One week ago, on January 31, we proactively implemented a policy to safeguard our school communities with the following guidelines:

  • Follow the CDC travel advisory, which warns against all non-essential travel to China.
  • If your family (including students) have returned from travel to China, as of January 31, 2020, we ask that you voluntarily keep your student(s) home from school for 14 days. Every effort will be made to assist students in keeping up on schoolwork and easing their transition back to school after the quarantine period. During this period, students will have excused absences from school.
  • If any individuals in your household have traveled from China on or after January 31, 2020, we ask that they voluntarily quarantine themselves for 14 days. This may mean staying away from children, so that children may continue to attend school. This may also apply to guests visiting who traveled from China.
  • As further clarification, we request that if individuals in your household are under self-quarantine in your home, please also keep your children at home for the same 14-day period, beginning on the day the individuals arrived in the U.S. from their China travels.

We remind our families, our students and our staff that we are a strong, supportive community, and we need to take care of ourselves and each other during this time of heightened concern. While we cannot make these requirements mandatory, as we do not have the authority of a government agency, we do ask that, in the spirit of community, you do what is best for everyone.

In addition to the self-quarantine policy for China travelers, we continue to act with vigilance and diligence in promoting overall preventative health hygiene within our schools, including:

  • Increased daily cleaning by staff and janitorial staff, with special attention to “high-touch” surfaces
  • Continued daily “wellness” checks of students and promptly sending students home if they show signs of illness
  • Increased attention to and instruction on health hygiene practices for our students (e.g. proper hand-washing, proper coverage of coughs and sneezes) — we invite you to reinforce these practices at home using the Hand Washing Guide

School Health Guidelines are Strictly Enforced
We understand that missing work to care for a sick child may be inconvenient; however, for everyone’s health and safety, we ask for your partnership in keeping your child home if you observe the following symptoms of a contagious illness:

  • Fever of 100 degrees or more. Children must be free of fever for at least 24 hours, unassisted by fever-reducing medication before returning to school.
  • Green discharge from the eyes or nose
  • Watery, inflamed eyes
  • Crusty eyelids
  • Sore throat
  • Deep cough
  • Vomiting
  • Diarrhea
  • Heavy nasal discharge
  • Unusual irritability
  • Rash or other open sores
  • Flushed appearance, clamminess

Be an upstander — show care and kindness to others
It is imperative that we work together as partners to resist the hurtful spread of rumors, and avoid acting with discrimination or suspicion due to race or ethnicity. As well, under no circumstances will our students be excluded from school or any school activities due to race or country of origin.

If you have questions regarding coronavirus symptoms, prevention and treatment — consult the official resources:

https://www.who.int/emergencies/diseases/novel-coronavirus-2019
https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-nCoV/summary.html
https://www.sccgov.org/sites/phd/DiseaseInformation/novel-coronavirus/Pages/home.aspx

Thank you in advance for your continued support. Together, we can keep our community healthy and safe — we sincerely appreciate everyone’s efforts!

The Rhoades School


January 31, 2020

Dear Rhoades School Families,

First and foremost, thank you for being our partner in supporting a healthy school community. We understand that in the event a new virus surfaces, as with the recent Coronavirus, there can be lots of anxiety and stress associated with the spread and potential impact to our community. It is important to stay informed and rely on credible sources including the Center for Disease Control (CDC), the World Health Organization (WHO), and national and local health departments.

With that said, this is a rapidly evolving situation. As of January 30, the WHO declared the Coronavirus a global health emergency. Although the CDC continues to classify the risk to U.S. citizens as “low,” it has raised the travel advisory to its highest level, Level 3 (Red), warning against all non-essential travel to China, and the U.S. Department of State has declared a Level 4 – Do Not Travel to China alert.

Currently, the CDC is only recommending a quarantine of individuals who develop symptoms of the Coronavirus. However, out of an abundance of caution, while respecting the rights of all our families, we are proactively implementing a policy from this point forward that protects our community in a respectful and thoughtful manner. Therefore, we would like to ask the following of you:

  • Follow CDC travel advisory which warns against all non-essential travel to China.
  • If any individuals in your household are returning from China, we would ask that they voluntarily quarantine themselves for 14 days. This may mean staying away from children, so that children may continue to attend school. This may also apply to guests visiting your home who traveled from China.
  • If your family (including students) are returning from travel to China, as of today, we ask that you voluntarily keep your student(s) home from school for 14 days. Every effort will be made to assist students in keeping up on schoolwork and easing their transition back to school after the quarantine period. During this period, students will have excused absences from school.

We remind our families, our students and our staff that we are a strong, supportive community, and we need to take care of ourselves, and each other during this time of uncertainty. While we cannot and will not make these requirements mandatory, we do ask that, in the spirit of community, you do what is best for everyone.

At school, we will continue to monitor recommendations from the CDC, WHO, as well as state and local health departments. We will also continue to reinforce with students at all grade levels the importance of prevention, and we ask our families to please support these best practices at home:

  • Wash hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds. If soap and water are not available, use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer.
  • Avoid touching your eyes, nose, and mouth with unwashed hands.
  • Avoid close contact with people who are sick.
  • Stay home when you are sick.
  • Cover your cough or sneeze with a tissue, then throw the tissue in the trash and wash or sanitize hands.
  • Clean and disinfect frequently touched objects and surfaces.

To help keep our community healthy, we remind parents never to mask a fever with Tylenol or Advil in order to send a sick student to school. The student’s illness could get worse, and they could make many other students, teachers, and staff sick.

Please be advised that we will continue to strictly enforce our policy of requiring children with a fever to stay home until fever-free for 24 hours without taking fever-reducing medicine. If your child becomes sick at school, you will be called immediately and expected to take your child home within one hour.

Remember, if you have any health related questions or concerns, please contact your health care practitioner. We sincerely appreciate everyone’s continued efforts to stay healthy during this flu season.

Thank you,

Regina McDuffie, Ph.D.
Head of School


January 27, 2020

Dear Rhoades School Parents,

We have received some concerns from our school community regarding the emerging outbreak of the novel coronavirus (2019-nCoV). As confirmed by the most recent notification from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) posted on January 26, 2020, there are now reports of five cases among travelers from the Wuhan, China region that have been confirmed in four states (AZ, CA, IL, WA). It is important to understand that while the CDC considers this is a very serious public health threat overall, based on current information, they have assessed the immediate health risk to the general US population as “low” at this time.

We are diligently monitoring the situation and continuing to follow guidance from the CDC, as well as our local health officials. There are no confirmed cases in our schools. Out of an abundance of precaution and awareness, here is what you can do to help prevent the spread of diseases and viruses.

What are the symptoms of 2019-nCoV?
According to the CDC, symptoms of the virus include fever, coughing, and shortness of breath. The CDC believes that symptoms of 2019-nCoV may appear within 14 days after exposure. The illness can be more serious for individuals with a weakened immune system, the elderly, or those with underlying respiratory problems.

Best practices for prevention (per the CDC)

  • Wash your hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds. If soap and water are not available, use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer.
  • Avoid touching your eyes, nose, and mouth with unwashed hands.
  • Avoid close contact with people who are sick.
  • Stay home when you are sick.
  • Cover your cough or sneeze with a tissue, then throw the tissue in the trash and wash or sanitize hands.
  • Clean and disinfect frequently touched objects and surfaces.

We urge parents to be particularly diligent with preventive hygiene and vigilant in monitoring for flu symptoms, especially if they have been in contact with anyone traveling from China in the past two weeks. If any of your children have come in contact with recent travelers, AND have symptoms, we ask that you contact your health care practitioner immediately for advice, and have your child stay home pending written clearance from their health care practitioner. The CDC provides information specifically for travelers, or those who may have been in contact with travelers, in high alert areas. Click this link to read the CDC’s travel notice.

Actions we are taking
With safety and student wellness always top of mind, we are committed to maintaining a healthy learning environment by educating our school community about wellness and healthy hygiene practices. In addition to our daily wellness check of students and promptly sending students home when they show signs of illness, we will continue to disinfect all commonly touched surfaces throughout the school day, and as part of our evening janitorial service.

General Health Guidelines
For everyone’s health and safety, please adhere to these health guidelines by keeping sick children at home until they have been symptom-free for at least 24 hours:

  • Fever of 100 degrees or more. Children must be free of fever for at least 24 hours, unassisted by fever-reducing medication before returning to school.
  • Green discharge from the eyes or nose
  • Watery, inflamed eyes
  • Crusty eyelids
  • Sore throat
  • Deep cough
  • Vomiting
  • Diarrhea
  • Heavy nasal discharge
  • Unusual irritability
  • Rash or other open sores
  • Flushed appearance, clamminess
  • Fever

Rule of thumb! If your child is not well enough to participate in class activities, he/she should not be at school. Children may return to school when they are fever free, feeling well enough to participate in academic and playtime activities, and can handle their congestion with tissues.

We ask all members of our school community to be our partner in maintaining good health. If you or members of your family become ill with flu like symptoms, please stay home and contact your health care practitioner. We sincerely appreciate everyone’s efforts to stay healthy during this flu season.

Thank you,

The Rhoades School

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