Coronavirus Community Update

March 8, 2020

Dear BWS Community:

We write to update you regarding the COVID-19 virus and potential impacts on the BWS community.  Please know that the Board of Trustees is treating this situation with the utmost seriousness and taking every reasonable precaution to protect the students in our care as well as our extended community.  

As this fluid situation evolved, it was initially believed that COVID-19 was appearing in isolated pockets within the United States and in certain hot spots. That is no longer the case. As of yesterday, there is one confirmed case of COVID-19 in Berkshire County, which incidentally has been determined to be unrelated to recent travel, with several more presumptive positives being treated at Berkshire Medical Center in Pittsfield. Given this, public health officials now believe that COVID-19 is more widespread throughout Berkshire County than previously known. The Board of Trustees is working in conjunction with its Medical Advisory Panel (comprised of three physicians within our community) and has updated its COVID-19 School Policy to reflect these developments.  The policy will be made available to the school community and involves best practices around cleaning at the school as well as school exclusion in the event of travel or possible exposure to COVID-19 cases. Also included in the policy is when and how we will work in conjunction with local and state medical resources.

In addition, one member of the BWS student community, who recently returned from an overseas trip, had a stopover in a country that has now been upgraded to a higher level of risk for exposure to COVID-19 (it previously was not).  That student (and siblings with close contact) were asymptomatic and BWS was advised, after consultation with the Massachusetts Board of Health, that it was safe for the student (and siblings) to return to school. Soon after their return, however, the country’s risk level on a scale of one to four was raised to “Travel Advisory Level 3.”  As a result of this status change, and in consultation with BWS’s Medical Advisory Panel, BWS has determined that the student and family may not return to school until the expiration of a 14-day quarantine period. The student’s exposure to the country was limited and the Medical Advisory Panel considers it unlikely that the student (or siblings) are carriers of COVID-19.  Nonetheless, this decision was reached out of an abundance of caution for the health and well-being of our entire community.

To that end, it is important to note that even though there is considerable evidence that children are not particularly vulnerable to COVID-19, they are important carriers and propagators of the illness.  If you are concerned that members of your family fall into an at-risk category, please know that BWS will support you and your child(ren) should you choose to stay home from school. All efforts will be made to accommodate and support your child’s learning during this time.

We urge all members of the BWS community to educate themselves about the symptoms of COVID-19, as well as best practices for preventing its spread. If you, your child or any other family member is experiencing fever, cough or respiratory symptoms, please stay home from school and seek medical advice from your doctor.  We also ask that you inform BWS immediately if you or your child are experiencing these symptoms. Our best defense is a proactive parent body. We ask that you work with us to protect our school and the most vulnerable members of our extended community, including adults over 60 years of age and immunocompromised persons.  For more information and the most recent updates from the CDC, please visit their website at https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/index.html.

Sincerely,
Lynn Arches
Interim School Director
Berkshire Waldorf School
35 West Plain Road
Great Barrington, MA 01230
(413) 528-4015