Dear Alto Community, 

In response to the continuing growth of COVID-19 and emerging information in the last 48 hours,  Alto International School will physically close to students and families beginning Monday, March 16 as we transition to distance learning. While Alto does not have a confirmed case of coronavirus in our community, we believe that the evidence of community transmission warrants school closure at this time. Our faculty and staff will meet on Monday and Tuesday of next week to finalize the distance learning plans and test platforms.

We recognize the impact that an extended school closure has on your family. We made this decision after much deliberation and consultation with other independent school leaders in our area and believe this action is the best course to take at this time. Our responsibility to safeguard the health and well being of our students, families, faculty, and staff is a charge we take very seriously.  

WHY CLOSURE AT THIS TIME?

On Tuesday, March 10, the San Mateo County Health Officer acknowledged evidence of widespread community transmission of COVID-19 in the county. On Wednesday evening, March 11, the San Mateo City Council declared an emergency situation, temporarily closing public facilities and suspending programs, inclusive of childcare centers. Quoting Menlo Park Mayor Cecilia Taylor, "This is an outbreak that requires us to prepare for significant disruptions to our daily lives.  We must take action now." 

At this stage of the health crisis, we can immediately take action by implementing social distancing to slow the spread of COVID-19. As you can imagine, social distancing is extremely challenging (if not impossible) to implement and enforce with young children, teens, adults, and visitors to campus. Likewise, we are aware that we have many older adults and extended family members within our community who are at greater risk of serious infection if exposed to the coronavirus.

As Alto is transitioning to distance learning to create physical distance in our community, we expect all students to practice social-distancing. Public health experts emphasize the need to avoid groups larger than 3 people (besides family) and to maintain 6 feet of distance between individuals. This means students can neither meet in large study groups nor socialize in large groups. To do your part in slowing the spread of COVID-19, please follow these  guidelines from the World Health Organisation (WHO).

WHAT'S NEXT?
  • Monday and Tuesday, March 16 and 17 - Alto staff finalizes the distance learning plans and platforms. Staff will work collaboratively on campus to accomplish this. 
  • Wednesday, March 18 - Distance learning actually begins.  
  • Thursday, March 19 until school physically reopens - In-person classes and regular school programs are suspended. Distance learning will be in place. Hort will not be available. 
The physical closure of the school to students and families will continue until a determination is made that it is advisable to reopen. The first determination will be made on March 27 after the first two weeks of distance learning and then on a weekly basis thereafter.  

In his statement of March 10, San Mateo County Health Officer Dr. Scott Morrow shared, "If I am filled with uncertainty, I can only imagine how the general public must be feeling. People want very specific answers to their questions, and they deserve them. But in many cases, there are not satisfactory answers to give them." 
 
The above message underscores the extraordinary times and circumstances we are now experiencing. We urge all of us to be patient, look after each other (from a distance) and celebrate that this too shall pass. We are grateful for your continued support through this evolving situation, and you can be confident that we are working to provide excellence on our end while keeping our community safe. 

Alto has created a page on our website to keep you informed and provide you with further resources. You are encouraged to check often for any updates.

Thank you for your patience and understanding, and stay healthy. 

Drew Alexander

John Furlan

Drew Alexander, Head of School John Furlan, Board Chairperson