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The Coronavirus: Prevention and Preparation at Providence

March 11, 2020 by Elaine Rottman

The safety of our students is our highest priority. Providence School leaders are closely monitoring the coronavirus situation. This monitoring includes a wide variety of proactive efforts, including reading local and national news, regularly checking information from the Center for Disease Control (CDC), Santa Barbara County Department of Health, Santa Barbara County Office of Emergency Management, and the World Health Organization. 

To date, parents and faculty have received two communications from the school with updated information on the coronavirus. We will update parents and post the information here as the impact of COVID-19 continues to unfold.

Local health officials met with county education leaders on Tuesday, March 10, and reiterated there is “no reason for K-12 schools to close at this time” due to the coronavirus. There have been no confirmed cases of the coronavirus in Santa Barbara County.

In an email sent to Providence parents on Monday evening, March 9, Dr. Tim Loomer, interim head of school, wrote:

“While a closure of Providence School does not appear imminent, some schools have closed in some communities here in the US and abroad. Know that we do not want to close school! We enjoy our time with your children. However, we are working to prepare should it be necessary to close school. Here are a few specific thoughts about this situation as it relates to Providence:

  1. At our faculty inservice meeting on Friday, March 6, we discussed plans if school needs to close for an extended period of time. How we respond will vary based on grade level. We are making plans for students to engage with core academic content from home while guided and supported by teachers remotely.
  2. We anticipate these academic plans will be very minimal for preschool aged children for whom much of their learning involves play and interactions with others.
  3. We recommend parents begin to think about options for childcare and supervision in the event we do need to close school for a period of time. Should we close, I anticipate the government and other agencies will encourage businesses to allow employees to work from home.

“While we are washing and sanitizing hands like crazy, these efforts are just really good practice for the arrival of the virus—should that happen, and prevention of spreading other types of influenza. Here are a few more thoughts about this situation as it relates to our community and travel:

  1. Continue to emphasize good hygiene with your children. Remember, do not send a child to school with a temperature (above normal). Eat well, exercise, and get lots of sleep.
  2. We recommend that families carefully consider travel plans over spring break. While the CDC does not currently list any locations within the US as a caution for travel, it is wise to use good discernment and judgement regarding your plans for spring break.
  3. Parents, should your travel for work or pleasure take you to China, Iran, South Korea, Italy, or Japan, please notify the school. The CDC has issued travel advisories for each of these countries: CDC travel advisory information. Should you visit these locations, we may ask that you and/or your students do not return to school or school-related activities for a period of time or that you submit a test result verifying you are free of the coronavirus.
  4. Regarding upcoming class trips planned for grades three through six: Our business office checked with each organization we contract with for the class trips to determine cancellation dates and refund policies. We have not yet passed cancellation dates, but as you might expect, some monies deposited are non-refundable. At this time we plan to continue with the trips. We are carefully watching the cancellation dates. Should we decide to cancel trips due to issues related to the coronavirus, we will notify parents immediately.
  5. We have reviewed our master calendar and are thinking about what non-essential school activities and events we may cancel should that become necessary. We are aware that in other communities, sporting events, practices, and other gatherings have been canceled to reduce opportunities for the transmission of the virus. At this time we are continuing with extracurricular activities (such as sports and musical practices). We will notify you should that change.”

Notification regarding any changes of plans will be posted on this website and sent to parents via RenWeb and other communication channels.

Please contact Dr. Tim Loomer (tloomer@providencesb.org) with any specific questions regarding Providence School’s prevention practices and plans in the event a coronavirus case is discovered in Santa Barbara.

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