Hello CA Community Members,
I do hope that all our students and families have been enjoying T2 break and that this message finds you well. Many things have changed since I last wrote about coronavirus on February 27, and I want to share an update on the latest news and Cary Academy’s plans.
As you likely know, yesterday Gov. Cooper issued a State of Emergency for North Carolina; Wake County Public Schools suspended all field trips, and shortly afterwards Duke University announced that it was extending its spring break and suspending on-campus classes for an undetermined amount of time. As of last count, 100 other colleges and universities around the US have made similar decisions. Today, the World Health Organization declared COVID-19 an official pandemic and NC State and UNC-Chapel Hill joined Duke in extending their spring breaks and/or moving to online learning at the end of the month.
What does this mean for Cary Academy?
While we recognize that North Carolina Department of Health and Human Services guidance does not yet recommend pre-emptive closures of schools as a reaction to COVID-19, we do believe that the unique makeup of our very mobile community, the recent rapid spread of the virus across a variety of locations in the US and abroad, and our recent two-week break compels us to exercise an abundance of caution when it comes to the potential health risks of COVID-19.
Therefore, I am writing to share that:
- Cary Academy will extend T2 break for students by two days, through Tuesday, March 17.
- Using our online learning platforms, we will begin T3 virtually on Wednesday, March 18.
- We will reassess and communicate further steps by Friday, March 27, but until then all on-campus, school-sponsored events and activities will be canceled or postponed.
While public and private organizations have responded to COVID-19 in a variety of ways, slowing the spread of the virus has been central to these decisions. Doing so can help health organizations marshal resources for those who are most vulnerable — people over 65 or those suffering from heart disease, lung disease, diabetes, or weakened immune systems. While a great deal has been written about the virus over the last several months, two widely accepted approaches to helping to slow the spread of COVID-19 have emerged and are worth sharing again.
As I shared in my February 27 email, taking precautions with your own health is important. Regular hand washing and avoiding touching your face are always good reminders. In addition, you may wish to clean your phone and laptop keyboard more regularly.
At the core of the most recent responses to COVID-19 is the notion of social distancing. This means that we avoid gathering in large groups or settings where there is a higher likelihood of coming in contact with somebody who is ill. This is not about panic but about an effort to keep the illness from spreading so fast that it overwhelms our hospitals and other health or community organizations.
To be clear, social distancing does not mean that we stay in our rooms and avoid all human contact, but that we are (much) more cautious for a period of time when the virus is spreading the worst. At this time, it is not rude to forgo a handshake or hug.
While there is no shortage of opinions on how to deal with this crisis, we believe that a community-wide form social distancing is prudent considering our school’s circumstances coming off break and the high likelihood of the continued spread of COVID-19 in the area in the coming weeks. We also believe our actions are in alignment with other NC DHHS guidelines to minimize large gatherings and use teleworking technologies where possible.
What’s Next for Students?
By early next week, students can expect communication from their divisions regarding schedules and protocols for online learning. In the meantime:
- Now is the time to test your computer and contact Information Services (email@example.com) if something is amiss. The campus is open for tech support, and you can come in and meet with a member of Information Services if necessary (please email first for an appointment).
- If you do not have access to internet at home, you should contact firstname.lastname@example.org so that we can work through a support protocol.
The Cary Academy campus will be open, but during this two-week window we ask that you only come to campus individually and with previous permission to meet with tech support or an administrator. If you have been in a high-risk area as identified by the CDC or have had a recent fever or other potential exposure to COVID-19, we ask that all communication with the school happen virtually.