COVID-19 Virus Update for Families

March 11, 2020

Dear BWS Families,

We write to you with an update on COVID-19 as it relates to our community. As you may already be aware, Governor Charlie Baker declared a state of emergency for Massachusetts yesterday on the heels of the state’s first person-to-person cases of COVID-19, which first emerged in Berkshire County. These cases are distinct because they indicate that the virus may be spreading freely in the community. The Governor’s decision will aid the administration in their response to the outbreak of COVID-19 and support their efforts to prevent and mitigate its spread.

We are staying in close contact daily with all pertinent government agencies as well as our local school district in order to best support our school community. Should our school need to close, or if the situation changes quickly, we will notify you directly via email, robo-call and social media. These messages would be brief with further details provided via email and also updated on our coronavirus dedicated webpage found here . Please ensure that all of your contact information is up to date in BigSis, which is used when we need to communicate with our school community or arrange for your child(ren) to be picked up due to illness. If you have not already done so, please log in to BigSis and review your contact details, including your non-family emergency contact(s).

While the number of confirmed cases in Berkshire County remains low, we understand that this situation is evolving daily and feel it prudent to clarify terms of contact as it relates to exposure to this (or any) virus.

If you are in direct contact with someone who has come down with the virus, or who is diagnosed with it shortly thereafter, you would be considered a Primary contact. Anyone who came in contact with you would be considered Secondary . Anyone who came in contact with that person might be considered Tertiary.

  • If we learn that anyone who is a primary contact has been present on the school premises, we will work directly with the Massachusetts Department of Public Health.  This could result in closure of the school for a period of time, which could be 14 days (the virus incubation period) or longer, depending on the circumstances of the particular case and updated advisories from public health authorities. We will err on the side of caution while being mindful of the disruption this would cause to students and to our community members.

  • If someone in the school has had contact with someone who is primary and is therefore a secondary contact, we will ask them to refrain from coming to school  (“self-quarantine”) until the primary contact has been clear of symptoms for 14 days following their contact with the diagnosed person.

  • Currently, tertiaries (that is, individuals who have had contact with a secondary) are not being asked to stay home, but rather to self-monitor for signs of respiratory symptoms and fever and stay home (or report to the nurse, if at school) at the first sign of any common symptoms. If a student is a tertiary and chooses to stay home, as determined by the DOE, these will be excused absences. 

Please remember that our children are listening. As always, we encourage you to maintain a calm and assured demeanor with your child(ren) during this time. In an effort to be proactive, you will notice that some teachers are sending supplies home with the children this weekend. If you choose to keep your child at home, you can do so by using a light tone and reassuring demeanor. Resources for talking to children about the virus and how to answer questions in an age-appropriate manner can be found on our COVID-19 webpage here.

We wish you all health, happiness and reassurance in the coming weeks.

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