February 28, 2020

Dear Lab School Families, Faculty and Staff,

I want to share with you that Lab is taking multiple steps to keep our students and staff as healthy as possible and prepare for the possible eventualities of any outbreak of coronavirus (COVID-19). As you have likely heard, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) made an appeal earlier this week asking schools to make preparations for the possible eventualities.
Prior to this week’s appeal, our two school nurses, Adriana van Breda and Ruthanne Neary have been keeping track of the latest information related to this new virus particularly how it is transmitted and precautions we could take for prevention and containment of this illness. Many of their recommendations have been in place as best practices during the current flu season, but we are heightening awareness once again. 

We will continue to make a firm appeal to students, faculty, and staff to stay home when feeling poorly. We have increased messaging to our community about the importance of washing hands well, using waves instead of handshakes, covering sneezes/coughs, and discouraging sharing of water bottles and food. Our cleaning service providers are increasing the frequency of cleaning hard surfaces. We will stay current with recommendations for maintaining a clean and safe environment coming from the CDC and others as more is understood about this virus.

Our nurses are in communication with the DC Department of Public Health, belong to local associations of school nurses, and monitor the CDC site daily to ensure that they have the most up-to-date knowledge to share with us. We will help faculty, staff and students to stay current with the most reliable sources of information and to mitigate the natural anxiety that develops in anticipation of situations for which we do not yet have the answers. 

Yesterday, our administrative team, 24 strong, met to discuss the further contingency planning that needs to be in place in the event of an outbreak. We anticipated the possible ways the school might be impacted when transmission of cases increases here in the U.S. We will be holding special meetings to continuously address these questions and respond to the growing body of information from multiple sources.  One of our priorities is to plan how best to support our learners, families and staff members should there be a need to close school for a period of time. We are fortunate in this era to have more ways to stay connected if the need for tele-education develops. We recognize that for each division there are different criteria to be considered. In the next two weeks, as our plans develop further, we will be in communication with you, so that you might be better prepared to partner with us as the nature of concerns related to the coronavirus unfold. We expect that each day we will know more about the possible scenarios that we need to be capable of managing in order to keep your children safe. 

We encourage you to email your questions to our nurses  Adriana.vanbreda@labschool.org (Foxhall), Ruthanne.neary@labschool.org (Reservoir) or me. Your input will be valuable as we develop more detailed plans. Your child’s safety and education remain our highest priorities.

Katherine Signature Firstname
Head of School