Dear St. John’s Community,
We apologize for intruding upon your Sunday afternoon with this communication, but as the impact of the Coronavirus 2019 (COVID-19) outbreak continues to widen, we want to address international and domestic travel for spring break. We acknowledge the stress and uncertainty that many in our community are experiencing, especially those who are serving in the medical community and those individuals whose normal routines have already been disrupted.
In light of the unusual nature of this outbreak, we have been speaking and consulting with colleagues across the country about how best to protect members of our community and mitigate the potential spread of this virus to the best of our ability. In consulting with the SJS Clinical Services Team and in keeping with the practice of using an abundance of caution, we are asking for your cooperation in adhering to the following travel protocol.
Following guidance from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), we ask that you avoid personal travel to CDC Warning Level 3 areas (currently China, Iran, Italy, and South Korea) and Alert Level 2 areas (Japan). If you do intend to travel to these areas, we ask that you immediately contact the appropriate SJS division head since travel to these areas triggers the CDC’s 14-day self-quarantine period. While your child’s absence will be excused, we will need advance preparation to help generate an alternative plan for educational outreach during the time of self-quarantine. Please note that because of the inconvenience factor in preparing an alternative course of study, those families who choose not to inform us of their travel plans into CDC-elevated areas prior to their actual travel will not receive an “excused” absence. We truly appreciate your genuine cooperation and partnership with us.
DOMESTIC TRAVEL UPDATE
Based upon the advice and counsel we have received from both medical professionals and several of our peer associations in secondary and higher education, as of today we are canceling all school-related spring break travel, including athletic competitions, academic symposiums/contests, professional conferences, and any other St. John’s-related work. At the time of writing this message, states of emergency or public health emergencies have been declared for the states of California, Florida, Indiana, Kentucky, Maryland, New York, Pennsylvania, and Washington.
Please note: These decisions to cancel travel are not intended to generate panic or fear, but rather to mitigate any risk associated with this rapidly evolving situation. Limiting school-sponsored travel for now is one way to contribute to our national effort to contain the COVID-19 outbreak. Containment is the most effective strategy we have at our disposal, and effective adherence to this practice will have the most significant impact on the health and well-being of our students and the broader community.
While the School takes no position on individual family decisions related to domestic travel, we advocate visiting local public health information sites to ascertain levels of risk and following the guidelines that they have created.
For anyone traveling during spring break, whether student, faculty, or staff, please be sure to take any materials (books, laptop, etc.) you need to do your work in the event that changing circumstances could affect your ability to return to campus in the near term.
As a reminder, tomorrow morning will be a K-12 delayed start at 9:30 A.M. due to a K-12 faculty meeting. Campus will not be open until 9:15 A.M. This includes all gates to the academic campuses. We will have a larger security staff present to help direct traffic, but anticipate higher traffic than usual. Tardies will not be counted tomorrow morning.
The main purpose of tomorrow’s late start is to afford the entire faculty the opportunity to begin the process of coordinating our remote learning plan in the event that we are asked to close school. The specifics of this plan will be communicated soon. While the plan will not attempt to replicate the full school day, our objectives will be highly focused on delivering curricular content and maintaining a sense of community. We will have a predictable and structured sequence of learning activities Monday through Friday with at least two active online sessions per day. We have already benefited greatly from speaking with our colleagues across the globe who have been forced into prolonged remote learning situations. We plan to incorporate “lessons learned” from them as we design our own program. At the time of writing this message, we learned that Lakeside School in Seattle, whom we view as a peer institution, has closed and is implementing its distance learning program. We will have the benefit of working with them as we tweak our program.
We appreciate your patience and empathy as we begin to undertake the challenges associated with this outbreak. Please continue to monitor this webpage for additional information and updates. We will do our best to limit communications to “essential” matters and continue to post important and relevant information on the Quicklink. Given the need for our families to start making the necessary adjustments related to spring break travel, we wanted to provide you with important information to guide your decision.