I want to share some important updates with you regarding our response to the spread of the coronavirus (COVID-19). The senior leadership team and health team are meeting daily to assess the situation and make decisions with the health and safety of our students, employees, and community foremost in our mind. At this time, King County Public Health is not recommending school closures, so we have chosen to remain open. This continues to be a difficult and complex decision, and we are aware of differing opinions within our school community. Even in the midst of differing viewpoints, you have all been so very gracious and understanding as we seek to make significant decisions with limited information. Please know the faculty, staff, and administration are grateful for your prayers for wisdom and your support. This community is one of the great strengths of The Bear Creek School, and that strength is magnified in times of trial.
While school remains open, we are making some significant adjustments and preparations to care for our students, faculty, and staff, and to do our part in helping prevent further spread of the disease.
Additional In-Service Day on Monday, March 9
Our in-service day on Friday, March 6 is dedicated to training our faculty to most effectively deliver instruction in the event of a prolonged school closure. Preschool – grade 4 teachers will be trained on how to use virtual tools to facilitate continued learning for students, and grades 5 – 12 faculty will refresh their prior training on using Veracross and the Office 365 suite. To ensure teachers have sustained and focused time to create virtual lesson plans for this different way of teaching, we have decided to extend the training an additional day. Monday, March 9 will be a teacher in-service day also, with no school for students. We hope this day off will also provide time for students and families to pause and plan for the rapidly changing situation. We are closing for preparedness reasons only. We DO NOT have any confirmed cases of COVID-19 at The Bear Creek School.
Changes to Events and Activities
- The grade 6 Shakespeare productions, and the grades 3 and 5 Animal and Science Fair will be rescheduled for a time during the school day, and parents will be invited. Since the King County Public Health Department has recommended that people avoid large gatherings, we are seeking to minimize large gatherings of individuals outside our immediate community. While children are not believed to be at serious risk for the disease, we are also being mindful of the population that is at higher risk, such as our grandparent community, who may attend these events.
- All field trips and speakers for next week, as well as the Middle School Social, are cancelled or postponed.
- Athletics practices will occur as planned for the time being, but we continue to evaluate and monitor the situation, and will make adjustments as needed.
- We will evaluate the events and activities scheduled after March 16 (including the social media presentation and the auction) next week, basing our decisions on public health authorities’ guidance and the circumstances.
As always, student well-being remains our top priority. Our faculty and staff are working hard to minimize disruption to student learning and keep students focused, calm, and reassured, while following our High Alert NPI protocols for communication, cleaning, gathering, and sharing materials.
Other Measures We Are Taking
- Cleaning protocols: As mentioned in prior emails we have instituted nightly disinfecting cleaning of all horizontal surfaces, such as desks, chairs and countertops, in addition to door handles and other frequently touched surfaces. Internal doors are propped open during passing times in the day and our facilities team is routinely disinfecting door handles throughout the day, in an effort to minimize contact with door handles. Teachers are building in additional time for frequent hand washing and gel in/gel out protocols for rooms without sinks. Faculty and staff will also do an additional deep cleaning of classrooms and workspaces during the in-service day on Friday, March 6.
- Student absences: We are tracking illnesses and attendance of students, faculty, and staff on a daily basis in all divisions. Please know, if you choose to keep your student home we are supportive of that decision, please contact the Attendance Office to notify them of your decision and please refer to our “stay home if you are sick” policy if you have any question about whether your child should come to school.
- Campus visitors: To minimize the risk of spreading the virus, we are asking anyone who has traveled to China, Iran, Italy, Japan, or South Korea in the last 14 days, or has a fever, cough, or shortness of breath, to not enter the buildings on our campuses.
- Outside speakers or “in-house” field trips: We have asked faculty and staff to minimize the number of non-Bear Creek visitors, including outside speakers, to campus at this time, and to reschedule or postpone visits unless absolutely necessary.
What you can do
- Most importantly, if your children are sick, keep them home and seek medical attention. Absences will be excused and teachers will work with students to arrange for them to make up assignments or tests. If a student comes to school and is sick, s/he will be sent home immediately with written information about when s/he may return to campus. If you choose to keep your child home, contact your teacher or Division Head to discuss ways to maintain his/her academic progress.
- Remind your children about how to maintain healthy habits, including covering coughs and sneezes and washing hands often for 20 seconds.
- Discuss with children (as developmentally appropriate) the importance of responsible use and consumption of social media. Sharing inaccurate information can create anxiety and further complicate an already challenging public health situation.
- And, even more so in times of trial and anxiety, let’s remember to always treat each other as image-bearers of God, fully deserving of dignity and respect.
- Read our email updates, and refer to our webpage for additional information, resources, and prior communication related to coronavirus.
Where our hope is
This week has been a poignant reminder of our limitations and fragility as human beings. In today’s culture, it is easy to fool ourselves into thinking we are sovereign and in control and to forget that we are not. That realization often comes only during periods of trial and rarely comes in times of ease. However, that realization opens a door to the encouraging thought that we have a hope that surpasses our control and is greater than we. As Paul reminds us in the book of Romans, our hope is in the work of the Lord, the sovereign Lord of grace, peace and love.
“Therefore, since we have been justified through faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom we have gained access by faith into this grace in which we now stand. And we boast in the hope of the glory of God. Not only so, but we also glory in our sufferings, because we know that suffering produces perseverance; perseverance, character; and character, hope. And hope does not put us to shame, because God’s love has been poured out into our hearts through the Holy Spirit, who has been given to us.”
May He be our hope in all things.
Grace and peace,
President and Headmaster