We have been monitoring the evolving developments and recommendations related to coronavirus, guided by the World Health Organization, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), the U.S. State Department, and regional and local health officials. The health and well-being of our students, parents, and colleagues are our top priorities.
In addition, the CDC has noted that it is important to remember that "diseases can make anyone sick regardless of their race or ethnicity. People of Asian descent, including Chinese Americans, are not more likely to get COVID-19 than any other American.” Please help stop rumors, fear-mongering, and discrimination from spreading by letting people know that being of Asian descent does not increase the chance of getting or spreading COVID-19.
If you have recently traveled outside the United States, please visit the World Health Organization’s Coronavirus resource page or the CDC website for additional guidelines.
Dear Carey Families,
In light of the recent decision to cancel in-person classes at the school, I had wanted to share with the Carey community a brief set of guidelines I have written for parents about discussing COVID-19 with children. I have also attached another set of guidelines developed by the National Child Traumatic Stress Network. These guidelines are a broad framework and may not be applicable to every child and family. I also want Carey parents to know that I am available to consult to them should you have concerns that arise in the coming weeks. Please feel free to email me if you have any questions and we can set up a phone or video conference. We are all together as we face this unique challenge.
Kent Grelling, PhD
Talking with Children about COVID-19
At this point, most children, including the very young, have heard something about the novel coronavirus and its impact on our health and our community. This can result in anxiety and has already forced many families to change aspects of their daily routine. It can be hard to talk to young children about this in a way that helps them adjust their behavior appropriately without creating undue anxiety in them. The following are some general tips for how to address this with them.
1) Manage your own anxiety. This is a completely unique experience for all of us but especially for your children. They have no context for this experience and so they will model their response on yours. Do your best to control your own expressions of anxiety and think carefully about what they are overhearing in your conversations, in person and on the phone. More than television, the internet or any other media, you will determine how your children respond to this experience.
2) Reinforce that you want them to take actions to prevent transmission in order to protect others but stress that they are safe. The risk to young children from Coronavirus appears to be almost non-existent. The risk to younger, generally healthy adults is also quite low. Tell them you want them to wash their hands, cough into their elbow, employ social distancing, etc. to protect their neighbors, their grandparents, etc. Engage their desire to be helpful to others.
3) Set realistic, achievable expectations for behavior to prevent the spread of disease. I would recommend reviewing the CDC’s Coronavirus page here: https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/index.html and their page on COVID-19 and children here: https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/specific-groups/children-faq.html) Trying to sanitize every surface and manage every thing your child touches is not realistic and will increase their anxiety.
4) Minimize their exposure to the news and social media. Just as you would not expose your young children to intense or shocking TV shows or movies, you should not leave 24-hour news on in the background at home. Young children are unable to weigh this information rationally and it is likely to produce anxiety in children prone to it. Be especially careful about YouTube and other social media sites where catastrophizing and inaccurate videos can pop up in your child’s feed without them looking for it. Be cognizant of the media your older children view while your younger children are around. While we must be informed, we do not need to be glued to the news 24 hours a day.
5) Keep your routines as best you can. Letting young children stay up late, play video games for unlimited time, eat unhealthy foods, etc may be tempting when you are out of your normal routines. However, these changes are likely to result in an increase in behavioral problems and, for some children, increased anxiety.
6) Keep kids busy at home. If you are forced to isolate at home, try to keep busy and find a variety of things to do. Just bingeing Netflix or playing video games may not be the best way to pass the time. Help your children start a new project, learn to play a new song, do a puppet show or a play, play a family game, etc. Come up with projects at home you might not otherwise have time to do and get started on them. Too much “downtime” is not a good thing, especially for anxious children. To the greatest extent possible make this a time for family engagement and connection.
7) Expect some tension, It would be nice if families pulled together under adversity and functioned like a well-oiled machine. This is almost never the case. Individuals in the same family deal with stress in different and sometimes incompatible ways. Expect this, acknowledge the stress with your children and talk explicitly about ways to de-escalate conflict (i.e. separation of siblings, deep breathing, physical activity, etc.)
8) Finally, if there is a safe way to do so, get outside and get some sunlight and exercise. When you step into nature and away from 24-hour news you realize that the earth still turns. Take a walk, sit someplace and read, enjoy the spring weather and try to calm your anxiety. You can’t get rid of these worries completely, but you can take a break from them and take some slow deep breaths of fresh air.
Kent Grelling, PhD
Dear Carey Families,
As Duncan recently communicated, the school will be closed from Monday, March 16th until Monday, March 30th. During that time, we will move to remote learning which will allow learning to continue from home. This process will commence on Wednesday, March 18th after two days of professional development in which our teachers will be beginning to create online learning lessons and materials.
Here is what you need to know to prepare to help your child with remote learning:
As elementary school students, your child will need guidance, support, encouragement, and structure to complete online work. Assignments given by teachers will attempt to provide these elements, but best success will come from an adult close at hand in order to make remote learning possible.
Additionally, as a school that prides itself on hands-on, novel, engaging, SEL-infused content, this switch to remote learning is new to our teachers, too. As we make this transition and roll out this new system, we will make refinements as necessary. We will ask for your feedback, as we do.
Read on for specific, important information in the form of frequently asked questions.
How will you take attendance?
Each weekday morning, Ms Val will email out a Google Form to take attendance. Please fill out the Google Form each morning. In addition, if you have any information to communicate about your child’s ability to complete classwork and assigned lessons, please email their teacher and Neely Norris.
What should we expect?
Each day of remote learning will look like that day on the cycle in school. That means that each morning your child will be assigned lessons or activities representing the classes that would be taught the current day of the cycle, but the assignments will need to be accessed online. These activities will be different depending on the age of students and the content of the class. Some will require your child to use a device to complete, and some will not. Teachers are working hard to give clear instructions that parents and students can work through together.
At this time, teachers will be using entirely asynchronous remote learning, that means that instruction will be shared by teachers daily, and it will be up to parents and students to pace the work through the day. Asynchronous learning is best suited to the developmental levels of students at Carey, allowing parents to give students breaks and manage time spent working on a device vs time away from screens. As our remote learning program continues, there may be times that teachers ask parents to help their child participate in synchronous learning activities, which would require students to all be present at the same time on a Google Hangout or Zoom conference, learning, participating and communicating with their teacher and classmates. More to come on this in a few days.
How do we access assignments and what device should we use?
On Tuesday we will send out grade level specific instructions to help you get things up and running. Tech Integration Specialist, Nate Geer, has developed a parent website as well as helpful videos in order to help parents transition to remote learning that you will have access to on Tuesday.
PK-2 students will be using an app called Seesaw and will have the best success using the Seesaw app on an ipad or tablet, but activities will be possible to complete using a laptop or desktop. 3-5 students can use a computer or Chromebook to access and complete assignments.
What should we do if we have questions or encounter problems?
If you have challenges with the tech aspect of remote learning (accessing apps, logging in etc) your first stop should be the parent Carey at Home website that we will share on Tuesday. If that doesn’t meet your needs, you are welcome to email our Tech Integration Specialist, Nate Geer or our Director of Technology, Chris Bastian.
If you have challenges with the activities and lessons, please email the teacher that assigned it. Teachers will be available by email throughout the school day each weekday and will also offer Zoom or Google Hangout “office hours” to check in with students or teachers. More information on that on Tuesday as well.
More information to come
As we roll out this process we are here to answer questions and talk things through, and we will continue to communicate as we build out our plans. We might not be seeing each other everyday, but everyone in the Carey community is seen- as learners, teachers, parents and partners in learning.
All my best,
Dear Carey Families,
After consultation with a county official today, we now understand that the impact of Covid-19 in the county makes widespread school closures inevitable and likely imminent.
Accordingly, we will close school Monday, March 16-March 30. Our re-opening date is subject to delay pending guidance from county officials.
On Monday, March 16 and Tuesday, March 17, faculty will continue their preparations for distance learning. Students can use these days to complete work already assigned or for independent reading. On Wednesday, March 18, we will begin our transition to distance learning.
What Happens Next?
On Friday, March 13 Conference Day will continue as scheduled. Again, please go directly to and from your conferences and do not congregate. Childcare will be provided. Depending on the grade level, teachers may send home distance learning materials with parents. If you are not attending Conference Day, materials will also be available on campus between 1:00-3:00 on Monday, March 16 as directed by your child(ren)'s teachers. Pease contact Neely Norris with questions.
Depending on the grade level, we will utilize a variety of platforms to continue teaching and learning. In a subsequent email, Ms. Norris will detail our Carey at Home platform which is full of helpful how-to instructions for students and parents. By Tuesday, March 17, you will receive additional instructions about curricular delivery.
We will be back in touch by Tuesday, March 17 with further information.
Do Your Part: Spread Out the Spread
The logic behind school closure is to spread out and delay the spread by enacting social-distancing. Public health experts now emphasize the need to avoid groups larger than three people other than family members and to maintain six feet of distance between individuals. To do our part in slowing the spread of COVID-19, we are asked to pass along these guidelines from the CDC: "Discourage students and staff from gathering or socializing anywhere. Discourage gatherings at places like a friend’s house, a favorite restaurant, or the local shopping mall."
Since Carey does not have a confirmed case of coronavirus in our community, we have remained open as long as possible. Now the time has come to transition as a school, as a community, and as a society. Covid-19 is of a scale that will test our capacities. We will be here when this episode ends. We will be with you as it plays out.
Where lies the greater social good: in staying open or closing school?
To answer such a question, we have been following the advice of local health officials, one of whom, Scott Morrow, San Mateo County Health Officer stated recently, "I now have evidence of widespread community transmission of COVID-19 in San Mateo County...At this moment, given what I know, I believe grinding everything to a halt would cause us more harm than good."
We are aware of the increasing number of peer school closings in the area. It is important to note these schools vary in size, structure, and in their reasons for closing. In a call with county health officials this afternoon, schools have been encouraged to stay open; for now. We are following that guidance.
This means that we will have school on Thursday and Conference Day on Friday. I will update the community again on Friday afternoon regarding our status for next week.
I want to reiterate that we have no reported cases of Covid-19 and continue to be in touch with a wide range of experts including doctors, epidemiologists, and educators to inform our decision-making.
While our attendance has remained strong, please note that absences during this timeframe will be excused. As ever, please keep us informed about your child(ren)'s attendance.
More to come Friday afternoon.
Dear Carey Families,
Community can be hard to define sometimes. In times such as these, we are again reminded of our communal strength.
At the outset, I wanted to thank our faculty, staff, and students for doing what they do best. While the world outside is churning, Carey classrooms are keeping on with their teaching and learning routines. I also want to thank our our leadership team for continuing to review a wide range of data and advisories regarding Covid-19. We feel well-informed as we make important operational decisions. Accordingly, I wanted to provide you with our latest thinking about school gatherings, the April break, campus hygiene, and the possibility of school closure.
As many of you might know, the latest update from Scott Morrow, San Mateo County Health Officer, contains the following passage: "All non-essential gatherings should be canceled, postponed, or done remotely. Unfortunately, at this time, I have no standard definition of 'non-essential' or 'gathering' to guide your decisions. Use your best judgment."
Our best judgment leads us to the following decisions:
- Conference Day on Friday, March 13 will function as normal with Covid-19 social norms now in effect (no handshakes, re-schedule if you are ill, etc.). We will not have a coffee cart on this day and ask that parents not congregate in large numbers. Please be community minded by going directly to and from conference locations. Child care will be provided as usual. Should you want to schedule a Zoom conference on an alternate date, please contact Neely Norris.
- We have decided to reschedule the Carey auction. The new date will be Saturday, May 16. Same venue. Same theme. Assuming it is safe to hold large gatherings by then, having Spaghetti Dinner on Friday, May 15 followed by the auction will make for a wonderful weekend of celebration for our community.
- We are postponing all other "non-essential" events until after Monday, April 13 when school resumes from break. Re-scheduling information will be forthcoming from the school or event organizers.
April Break Request
In previous communications, I requested anyone with actionable information relating to the virus to please contact me. To date, I have not heard from anyone in our community in this regard. Additionally, we ask that families traveling to international regions currently identified by the U.S. Department of State, CDC, and / or World Health Organization as high-risk for COVID-19 exposure, appropriately notify the school upon return, and, if need be, parents and student self-quarantine for a period of 14 days before returning to campus.
As noted in prior communication, we continue to emphasize hand washing and promote individual hygiene. A hand washing station will soon be in place on the lower playground near the 1st and 2nd grade classrooms. We have reviewed hygiene measures with Epicurean, our food service provider. Visitors will soon be greeted by signage noting CDC recommendations and regulations.
Local health officials are urging schools to stay open if at all possible. Nonetheless, our team has been preparing for the possibility of school closure. Should we make the decision to close school, we would do so with as much notice as possible and provide information about next steps. Led by Ms. Norris and Mr. Geer, our faculty has been working on the systems and contents to deliver an online curriculum. Deployment of our remote learning plan would be accompanied by implementation instructions for parents and students.
In closing, I want to thank our families for your ongoing partnership as we endeavor to operate school amid the uncertainty and fluidity of this global situation. We hear what you hear. We read what you read and know the multitude of complexity this virus has created in the wider world and in our homes.
As it has always done, the Carey community will manage through, together.
Dear Carey Families,
As the story of Covid-19 continues to evolve, I wanted to provide an update on our preparedness efforts.
In the past few weeks, our team has consulted numerous advisory entities such as the CDC, the San Mateo County Office of Education, as well as our regional and national associations (CAIS and NAIS). We also have networked effectively with dozens of local peer schools which has led to the creation of a Carey Covid-19 Response Plan. I want to touch on a few aspects of our plan:
Our teachers have been asked this week to stress again the importance of handwashing. To do so, we are using videos and periodic washing times. Happily, most of our classrooms have sinks to help ensure that all students are practicing this important hygiene routine.
We also have asked our professional cleaning crew to increase the scope and duration of their daily campus cleaning.
We continue to require anyone who is sick to stay away from campus. As ever, students with flu-like symptoms will be sent home.
We continue to develop an online learning curricula that could be implemented in the event that we closed school for an extended period of time.
In prior emails, I requested anyone with actionable information relating to the virus to please contact me. To date, I have not heard from anyone in our community in this regard. Should this change, or should other events warrant, we will provide relevant updates.
Lastly, here is a helpful resource for Talking to Kids About the Coronavirus. One of the points in the article is the importance of keeping students in their routines. Thankfully, our daily attendance remains strong. Let's all work hard to keep it that way.
Dear Carey Families,
As we head off to a break when many of our families travel, I thought it timely to share an update on our policy regarding the novel coronavirus
The California Department of Health has now recommended that any travelers from mainland China arriving in the United States since February 3, 2020, limit public interaction and should not be on a school campus for 14 days. Accordingly, we ask that any members of our community who have recently traveled to China or who have displayed symptoms of the virus remain away from campus for 14 days following their return to the United States as well as notify me or another school administrator. As of this writing, we are not aware of any person connected with our community who falls into this category.
I look forward to seeing everyone back on campus on February 24. We will have a special assembly that day at 10:20 with famed reggae artist Pato Banto who positive vibes will propel us into the spring months. Parents are welcome to attend.
Until then, enjoy the break.
Dear Carey Families,
As you may know, there is an ongoing outbreak of respiratory illness first identified in Wuhan, China called the novel coronavirus. While we have been advised that our community as a whole is at a very low level of risk, we would like to remind you about some best practices to avoid spreading any infection:
If your child is sick or exhibiting contagious symptoms such as fever, cough, or sneezing, please keep them home from school to avoid spreading illness. Please note our policy is for students to be fever-free for 24 hours before returning to school.
Please share any relevant information with us about the health status of a student, parent, or community member that would inform our decision-making regarding school operations. Through good communication we can help keep our community informed and healthy.
We want to reassure you that as we monitor this evolving situation there is currently no reason to suspect the coronavirus will impact our community. However, we will keep our families informed in case that assessment changes.