February 27, 2020

Dear WHWS Families,

We have been receiving lots of questions about the coronavirus in the office, so I wanted to share some resources and hopefully relieve potential concerns. As you are likely aware, on Tuesday, February 25th, the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) gave a press conference updating the country on the current status of the coronavirus (COVID-19), and what steps should be taken moving forward.

As the CDC emphasized, there is not currently a coronavirus pandemic in the United States . A pandemic occurs when a disease is spreading from a variety of sources across a large region, and the number of cases across the US is still small. However, given how quickly the global situation is evolving, we are monitoring new developments and will continue to reevaluate our steps and actions daily. 

In the meantime, the most effective way to stay healthy and minimize the spread of infectious disease is to follow basic health best practices such as: 

  • Exceptionally good hygiene practices, which includes washing hands thoroughly and often, and covering up coughs/sneezes
  • Avoid touching your eyes, nose and mouth
  • Clean and disinfect frequently touched surfaces and objects
  • Stay home when feeling ill, and do not return until fully recovered
  • Contact your physician if you believe that you have been exposed to the coronavirus

We are reviewing our procedures for dealing with ill children. We are planning for hand washing “training” and increasing our vigilance with janitorial practices. In our planning, we are also considering potential infections from spring travel and other non-typical school activities. We will stay as informed as possible, and hope that you are doing the same.

It is important to remember that handling the spread of a serious contagion like the coronavirus is primarily a task for public health agencies. Should an outbreak happen in Whatcom County and schools are required to close, we will develop a plan based on the most current information. Any directives from the World Health Organization, CDC, or local governmental organizations will be followed. I’ve included a piece about the outbreak from the New York Times for additional information.

We are grateful for the strength of our community, and the shared commitment to our children. Please continue to look for further communications from us on this matter.

Kathy Fraser,
Administrative Director

New York Times, updated Feb. 26, 2020

The Coronavirus Outbreak
Answers to the most common questions:

o    What is a coronavirus?
It is a novel virus named for the crown-like spikes that protrude from its surface. The coronavirus can infect both animals and people and can cause a range of respiratory illnesses from the common cold to more dangerous conditions like Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome, or SARS.

o    How worried should I be?
New outbreaks in Asia, Europe and the Middle East are renewing fears of a global pandemic . The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention warned this week that Americans should brace for the likelihood that the virus will spread to the United States .

o    How do I keep myself and others safe?
Washing your hands frequently is the most important thing you can do, along with staying at home when you’re sick.

o    What if I’m traveling?
The C.D.C. has warned older and at-risk travelers to avoid Japan, Italy and Iran. The agency also has advised against all nonessential travel to South Korea and China.

o    How can I prepare for a possible outbreak?
Keep a 30-day supply of essential medicines. Get a flu shot. Have essential household items on hand. Have a support system in place for elderly family members.

o    Where has the virus spread?
The virus, which originated in Wuhan, China, has sickened more than 80,000 people in at least 33 countries , including Italy, Iran and South Korea. ( Here is another map created at UW .)

o    How contagious is the virus?
According to preliminary research, it seems moderately infectious, similar to SARS , and is probably transmitted through sneezes, coughs and contaminated surfaces. Scientists have estimated that each infected person could spread it to somewhere between 1.5 and 3.5 people without effective containment measures.

o    Who is working to contain the virus?
World Health Organization officials have been working with officials in China, where growth has slowed. But this week, as confirmed cases spiked on two continents, experts warned that the world was not ready for a major outbreak .
Whatcom Hills Waldorf School | 941 Austin Street, Bellingham, WA 98229