Dear Distinctive Schools Network Families,
This is an update to our last message from February 29th, 2020 regarding the COVID-19 (coronavirus) and the network's response and procedures. Because the status of COVID-19 is rapidly changing both here in the U.S. and abroad, we are continually monitoring the situation and will regularly update you with information as it becomes pertinent to what is happening at your school.
We are in close contact with our local school districts and authorizers and have actively engaged with the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) to ensure that we are following the direction of experts when it comes to safety and preventative measures for our students and staff. We do - and will continue to - follow their guidance. As an update, Chicago Public Schools has announced a confirmed case of COVID-19 and they are working with families and students to ensure tight protocols are in place. If you have a student or family member at Vaughn Occupational High School, we ask that you inform us and follow all IPDH, CDC and CPS guidelines. As stated before, there have been no confirmed cases of COVID-19 in Michigan, but as the number of cases in the U.S. grows, we are taking this very seriously. As testing of COVID-19 becomes more widely available, we may begin to see new cases in the coming days and weeks. Local health departments along with state and federal authorities and local school districts will issue new guidance in the coming days and weeks, and we will keep you updated on changes and its impact on your school. At this time, the local district is not considering closing schools based on the recommendation of local health authorities. We will likely follow local district and authorizer decision making throughout the next few days and weeks.
There are several proactive measures we are taking right now as preventative measures in our schools and beyond, and there are things that you - as families and members of the school community - can do that are critically important as well.
What Distinctive Schools is doing:
- Reminding students and encouraging frequent hand washing with soap and warm water, as this is the number one way to prevent the spread of COVID-19, the flu and many other viruses. Also reminding students not to share food or drink.
- Ensuring that we have hand sanitizing stations at all schools and in all classrooms.
- Refocusing and increasing cleaning duties in all of our schools. Currently, all touch points (light switches, doorknobs, water fountains, etc.) are cleaned daily with an antimicrobial disinfectant on the EPA list of COVID-19 fighting products (VIRAL II/256.). Plans for additional focused deep cleaning of high traffic areas and buildings are in place and being deployed this week. Shared technology devices will also be cleaned frequently.
- Suspending any student awards or incentives for “Perfect Attendance.” It is critical that you do not send sick children to school.
- Suspending doctors notes from students for absences due to illnesses.
- Maintaining visitor logs and protocols as well as sign in procedures at each campus.
- Discouraging unnecessary physical contact, including shaking hands, hugging, etc. to limit the spreading of potential viruses. Please do not be offended if your child's teacher does not shake hands and do not feel obligated to offer a hand.
- Closely watching attendance and daily illness reports at each of our schools. This is common practice during flu season for Distinctive Schools.
- We are also actively monitoring any school-sponsored field trips to determine whether those should be postponed or cancelled. No decisions have been made at this time, but we are following alerts from the State Department, World Health Organization, local districts and CDC and will cancel, if necessary, to ensure the safety of our students and staff.
- Cancelling all international business related travel for any DS employees.
- Recommending DS staff to postpone, limit or cancel domestic business related travel for any DS employees.
- Updating all of our emergency-response plans and procedures. If the situation worsens significantly, please know that we do have an Emergency Operations Plan in place. It is far too early to speculate about any school closures, but know that we are exploring various options and planning is ongoing to ensure that student learning will continue. We are ready to put these plans into action if we need to take additional steps in response to the coronavirus and local district decisions.
WHAT YOU CAN DO:
- Keep your children home when they are sick: This simple guide gives good information about when to send students to school and when to keep them home, but if your child has any of the following symptoms, they should not come to school: fever (without medication), vomiting, diarrhea, undiagnosed rash, green or yellow discharge from nose, an inflamed throat, persistent cough, redness or discharge from the eyes, or an elevated temperature. Preventing the spread of any illness is all of our responsibility, and keeping sick children home will keep all kids safer and stop transmission within schools. Have a plan in place to pick your children quickly should they become ill at school.
- Encourage and help your children wash their hands often with soap and warm water for at least 20 seconds. If soap and water is not available, use hand sanitizer. Remind them to avoid touching their eyes, nose, or mouth with unwashed hands and to cover their mouth and nose with a tissue or upper sleeve when coughing or sneezing.
- Avoid contact with people who are sick and do not bring your children to visit with people who are ill.
- If you travel outside the US, adhere to the CDEC Guidelines: This includes self-quarantines, avoiding non-essential travel & processes for re-entry to our schools: https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/travelers/faqs.html
- If your students travel to a level 2 or 3 CDC COVID-19 warning area, please notify your School Director before returning: https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/travelers/index.html)
- If anyone in your household has traveled to level 2 or 3 CDC COVID-10 warning areas, please let us know and please follow all CDC guidelines.
- If any of our school families are expecting to host students from other countries, as part of exchange programs, with recent international travel, we ask you to let us know. In addition, if anyone in your household has traveled to any level 2 & 3 travel notice locations, we ask you to monitor symptoms and follow all CDC guidelines for communication protocols.
Here are some helpful links if you would like more information on COVID-19:
- Centers for Disease Control: https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/index.html
- Chicago Government: www.chicago.gov/coronavirus
- Wayne County Health Division (including easy to read fact sheets): https://www.waynecounty.com/departments/hhvs/wellness/novel-coronavirus-information.aspx
- Michigan Department of Health and Human Services (latest data statewide): https://www.michigan.gov/mdhhs/0,5885,7-339-71550_5104_97675---,00.html
If you have any additional questions or are showing any signs of a respiratory illness (similar symptoms to the flu: fever, cough, shortness of breath) please consult your health care professional. We will also update you again as the situation changes and more information becomes available. Finally, COVID-19 does not distinguish between race, nationality, or geographic borders. Stigma and discrimination against the afflicted discourages early reporting of symptoms and further perpetuates community spread.
If there is a concern related to student discrimination, please reach out to your School Director.
We are grateful for your partnership in keeping your children - and all Distinctive Schools students and staff - safe as we navigate through this situation.
Scott Frauenheim Mike McCarthy
Chief Executive Officer Executive Director of Student Services
Distinctive Schools Distinctive Schools