March 16, 2020

Dear USJ families,
We hope that all our students and families have been enjoying the break. Many things have changed since we last wrote about coronavirus on March 12, and we want to share an update on the latest news and our school’s plans.

This morning, Governor Lee issued a statement that all schools in Tennessee will be expected to be closed by Friday, March 20 and remain closed until March 31, 2020 to further mitigate the spread of this infectious disease. There will be further guidance from the Governor prior to March 31.

What does this mean for our school?
USJ will follow the statement from Governor Lee and close effective Friday, March 20th and will remain closed through March 31, 2020.   The infants and toddlers program, and before/aftercare will close beginning Friday, March 20. All other on-campus activities are suspended during this time.

All school events, including athletic events, will be canceled effective Friday, March 20. To be clear, USJ has only used one snow day and has days built into the school calendar. The extension of the break will not affect the number of recommended instructional days. The administrative team will meet on Monday, and we will communicate additional details regarding next steps.

While public and private organizations have responded to COVID-19 in a variety of ways, slowing the spread of the virus has been central to these decisions. Doing so can help health organizations marshal resources for those who are most vulnerable -- people over 65 or those suffering from heart disease, lung disease, diabetes, or weakened immune systems. While a great deal has been written about the virus over the last several months, two widely accepted approaches to helping to slow the spread of COVID-19 have emerged and are worth sharing again.

Personal Hygiene
As we shared in our March 10 email, taking precautions with your own health is important . Regular hand washing and avoiding touching your face are always good reminders. In addition, you may wish to clean your phone and laptop keyboard more regularly.
Social Distancing 
At the core of the most recent responses to COVID-19 is the notion of social distancing. This means that we avoid gathering in large groups or settings where there is a higher likelihood of coming in contact with somebody who is ill. This is not about panic but about an effort to keep the illness from spreading so fast that it overwhelms our hospitals and other health or community organizations. 

To be clear, social distancing does not mean that we stay in our rooms and avoid all human contact, but that we are (much) more cautious for a period of time when the virus is spreading the worst. At this time, it is not rude to forgo a handshake or hug.

While there is no shortage of opinions on how to deal with this crisis, we believe that a community-wide form of social distancing is prudent considering our school’s circumstances coming off break and the high likelihood of the continued spread of COVID-19 in the area in the coming weeks. We also believe our actions are in alignment with other TN DHHS guidelines to minimize large gatherings and use teleworking technologies where possible.

We are appreciative of your continued partnership as the community deals with this situation. Our team has been preparing for remote learning and detailed follow-up information regarding on-line services will be sent to our families by Tuesday, March 24.

In the meantime, enjoy your break, stay healthy and safe.

Stuart Hirstein
Head of School 
Don Roe
Head of School Elect
Associate Head of School