Dear CHA Community,
I want to start by thanking our families, staff and the CHA community for your patience and support in this rapidly evolving and unsettling time. I’d also like to ask that the manner in which we lead ourselves and communicate with one another within our community remains respectful as families make the best decision for their own family. We are better together and have demonstrated this many times over since Chestnut Hill Academy was established 22 years ago.
This message is intended to provide you with an update on COVID-19 (coronavirus) and the impact on our school. Bright Horizons Executive Team and I are monitoring the changing circumstances and are relying on guidance and information provided by our county and state public health offices.
Today, Public Health – Seattle & King County announced additional guidance aimed at reducing the risk of exposure and slowing the spread of COVID-19. Public Health is not recommending closing schools at this time. Health officials from Public Health and the CDC weighed recommendations for schools very carefully. Here are some of the reasons they recommend schools remain open:
- The available data about COVID-19 cases has shown that children and youth have not been high risk groups for serious illness from this virus. COVID-19 infection in children tends to be more like a common cold or a mild fever.
- Public Health – Seattle & King County knows that schools are doing the important work of educating our children. They don’t want to disrupt that unless there are confirmed coronavirus exposure risks.
- Public Health – Seattle & King County also recognizes that school closures have other impacts on working parents. School closures can be disruptive and costly for families, and they consider both the potential benefits and negative consequences of closures when they make recommendations.
Again, Public Health is not recommending closing schools at this time. If there is a confirmed case of COVID-19, Public Health will work with the school to determine the best measures including potential school closure. As much as possible, children should be allowed to carry on with their education and normal activities. Public Health – Seattle & King County’s new guidelines also included the following recommendations:
- People at higher risk of severe illness stay home and away from large groups of people as much as possible. Caregivers of children with underlying health conditions are advised to consult with their healthcare providers about whether their children should stay home. We understand that each family is in a unique situation and must make the decision of whether or not their children will attend school. As a district, we will respect the decision each family makes.
My team and I are reviewing the guidance to evaluate additional impacts on our school.
What We Are Doing
- We are reviewing other events in our school to determine how to approach rescheduling or cancellations.
- We are currently reviewing large events at our school. If you have concerns about a school-related gathering or event, please contact me directly.
- We are implementing new cleaning protocols that change the frequency of cleaning high-touch areas in our school and facility, including lobby, galleries, health clinic, entryway door handles, classroom door handles, classroom counters and desktops, classroom sinks, cafeteria table surfaces, school buses and other building touchpoints. Family style dining has been suspended at this time with students receiving pre-plated lunches and seconds being served by staff overseeing lunch.
- As the number of parents who are now working from home grows, we have equipped our teachers with Teams. This means that they will able to offer you the ability to hold your Parent-Teacher Conferences via video conference rather than coming in to the building. Please contact your child’s homeroom teacher if you would like to take advantage of this option. The time and date of your conference will remain the same.
- We are working to create a ‘Virtual School’. We will share additional information if we decide to close the physical school. This is all new territory to us. We will do the best we can with the resources we have. We appreciate your flexibility and support as we work through this process.
Getting Accurate and Reliable Information
We continue to advise our community regarding the importance of accurate sources of information. Any decisions and information related to COVID-19 will be shared via official school communication channels. We are committed to updating our community regularly. If there are any decisions made to close CHA, we will inform you immediately via Jupiter, our school website, and our official social media channels.
Our actions may change as this situation evolves. We are committed to providing you with timely and accurate updates on the best recommendations and guidance from our public health authorities. We will continue to update our website daily.
I want to express my appreciation for your continued patience as our team works through the daily challenges COVID-19 has presented us. Student safety and continued education is my foremost priority.