Updates on New Developments Related to Coronavirus

March 4, 2020

Dear BWS Families,
During this fast-changing and confusing time I’m reaching out with an update on new developments related to Coronavirus, and the actions we’re taking and planning at BWS to protect our school community. 
The health and safety of our students, staff and families is our top priority. We are closely monitoring the CDC, WHO, AWSNA, Massachusetts Department of Health and Massachusetts Department of Education. While the total number of Coronavirus cases in the U.S. remains relatively small, experts expect this number to grow as testing increases and more individuals seek care. Currently, the key recommendations from public health agencies to prevent the spread of Coronavirus are: 

  • Regular, thorough (60 seconds) handwashing
  • Staying home rather than going to work or school if you or your child have symptoms

We echo this recommendation and ask that you please keep students with any signs of respiratory illness or flu-like symptoms at home; for more information, go to your parent portal in BigSis in the “Documents” section.
We are in contact with our local department of public health to stay updated on the situation and take actions as needed. Our cleaning staff, teachers and students continue to focus on regularly cleaning surfaces like doorknobs, countertops and desks. Disposable wipes and disinfectant spray are available throughout our campus, EC – 8 th grade, and we strongly encourage their use. Once a week, along with the regular cleaning of our campus, cleaning teams will also disinfect.
We are in discussion on how student learning can continue should our school be closed temporarily. We are developing strategies for providing age-appropriate lessons to students, taking accessibility into consideration, as well as tools for staying connected as a community. We will communicate more details if and when it becomes necessary. 
We understand that there is additional anxiety around Spring Break travel that our families have planned for this time of year. Currently, the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) recommends against nonessential travel to South Korea, Italy, Iran and China, but there are no other restrictions or recommendations against other international or domestic travel. We will continue to monitor the situation for additional travel updates. If you experience respiratory or flu-like symptoms following travel, please do not come to campus. 
Finally, I want to take a moment to acknowledge the psychological impact of this situation. The organized worldwide response to Coronavirus has been robust and generally encouraging. However, it has also been a challenge for students (and really our entire community) to process. This New York Times article gives some good strategies on how to talk to children about Coronavirus without raising the anxiety of anyone involved. You can also go to your parent portal in BigSis under documents and find more articles to read on how to help your children with disturbing news.
I have been struck by the patience, support and resilience I’ve seen and experienced in our community as we tackle these challenges of our time. You are our greatest resource. Should our school need to close or if the situation changes quickly, we will notify you directly via email, robo-call and social media. We will continue to update you regularly.

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