March 11, 2020
As we stated in last week’s message, the status of the coronavirus (COVID-19) is changing daily and we are taking a calm, proactive approach to our navigation of the situation. We continue to be in daily communication with the Alachua County Health Department and we are actively monitoring information supplied by the CDC and WHO.
To keep you fully informed, we are sending this update. As you may be aware, there is now a confirmed case of COVID-19 in Alachua County. The Alachua County Health Department has informed us that based on the unique circumstances of this patient's arrival and stay in the area, the community risk is low. Therefore, there is no plan to close schools as a result of this case. Also, the University of Florida is requesting that its staff provide instruction online as much as possible due to the COVID-19 outbreak, and we are sure you are wondering what impact that may have on our school. University of Florida has recommended, not required, professors to take this action out of an abundance of caution and to help classes prepare if the University would need to close before the end of the Spring semester. As the Alachua County Health Department continues to test for cases, we will be informed immediately regarding any positive cases and will work with the Health Department staff to determine what, if any actions, need to be taken by MMS based on the particular situation.
Please know we are putting energy and focus on prevention and have taken many precautions to keep our school family as protected as possible:
• We have implemented more aggressive sanitization measures to clean frequently touched surfaces and wipe down desks, doors, tablets, laptops, public spaces and bathrooms.
• We are monitoring school absenteeism for flu-like symptoms to review numbers in the event we should need to temporarily close.
• The Safety Patrollers have suspended giving students high fives and are holding students shoulders instead of their hands.
Please note the progression of COVID-19 is an evolving situation and, therefore, the recommendations also may change. We are monitoring everything carefully. In the meantime, the standard expectation for all students is that they do not return to school if they are ill.
Again, with Spring Break around the corner, we strongly recommend families not travel to locations with CDC or U.S. Department of State Level 3 alerts or higher. If you plan to travel, please consult these sites for the most up to date travel guidelines. If you do travel to any of the listed locations, we ask that you voluntarily quarantine for 14 days following your return to protect your family and the school community from possible exposure.
At this point, we are not aware of any closings of private or public schools in Florida, and there is no reason for our school to close under the current circumstances, but we will continue to monitor what is happening in collaboration with the Health Department so that we can make the best decisions for our students, families, and staff. While we are focusing on prevention, we are also taking steps to ensure learning can continue if we do need to close.
We again want to remind everyone that there are a number of steps that can be taken to avoid illness. We ask that our entire community practice healthy behaviors and talk to your child about the following preventative measures:
• Wash hands often, for 20 seconds with soap, covering all parts of the hands • Practicing frequent hand-washing and/or use of alcohol-based gels (at least 60% alcohol) • Cough or sneeze into a tissue and then properly discard the tissue - if a tissue is not available, cough or sneeze into your elbow/sleeve • Do not share cups, water bottles, eating utensils and other such items • Avoiding touching your face or mouth • Avoiding shared electronics (e.g. touching someone else's keyboard or phone) • Keep children and family members home if they’re ill • Staying home until you are fever-free for 24 hours without medications that reduce fever
If you have any questions regarding COVID-19, you are encouraged to contact the Alachua County Health Department’s Epidemiology Department at (352) 225-4181.
Thank you for your continued support as we address this serious situation. We are grateful you trust us with your child and we do not take this situation lightly. We want to assure you that we are putting efforts into prevention and preparedness and we will continue to monitor the status of COVID-19. If you have any questions, please contact us. Thank you for your help as we take these steps to keep our community as healthy and safe as possible. We will continue to regularly update our families, as the need arises. Below you will find links to additional resources that may be helpful.
The World Health Organization (WHO) website. This site has general information on the coronavirus, a video, and an infographic about preventing the spread of viruses.
U.S. State Department website
Center for Disease Control (CDC) website.
CDC: Protecting your Family
Florida Department of Health
Alachua County Health Department
Florida Department of Education
Talking with Your Child:
CDC Talking to Children about Coronavirus
NPR: Just for Kids: A Comic Exploring the New Coronavirus
Child Mind: Talking to Kids About the Coronavirus
New York Times: How to Talk to Kids About Coronavirus
USA Today: How Do You Talk to Your Children About Coronavirus?