Coronavirus Updates & Resources

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October 16th Updates

First, a quick reminder that we’ll be offering our next webinar on Monday, October 26th. We’ll dig into these topics and more: 

  • Election season and political impacts on our communities
  • Travel and the holidays
  • Testing strategy updates for our participating schools
  • How we can support you throughout the year
  • As always, we’ll do our best to answer as many questions as time allows!

I’d like to launch into this note by asking you to do what we do at every Monday webinar: take a deep breath.

 

Airborne vs. Droplet transmission. As more information is being released about COVID-19, we continue to adapt our safety protocols and evolve our thinking. At the beginning of October, the CDC has stated the potential for airborne spread of the virus. They believe that based on current science, viral transmission is more likely when people are exposed in closer proximity and for longer times to an infected individual. They have noted specific instances where people have become infected who were more than 6 feet away or shortly after the COVID-19-positive person left an area.  In these cases, “transmission occurred in poorly ventilated and enclosed spaces that often involved activities that caused heavier breathing, like singing or exercise.” Safety protocols continue to recommend ”staying at least 6 feet away from others, wearing a mask that covers their nose and mouth, washing their hands frequently, cleaning touched surfaces often and staying home when sick.” We still know that droplet transmission is the primary mode of transmission, so while it is good to be aware of the ever-shifting data, we are currently adhering to the same mitigation strategies we have been espousing for a number of months. We will continue to provide notable updates as they occur, and encourage you to take a look at some of our sources of information on our blog post here

 

Holidays and Travel. Many of you have asked us for advice regarding Thanksgiving/holiday travel in November/December. In making and communicating travel guidelines or recommendations to your community, we suggest you lean into the following:

  • As always, staying home is the best protection to limit exposure and/or avoid COVID-19. If you are sick or have been exposed to a positive COVID-19 patient, please do not travel. 
  • Share out region-specific travel restrictions or guidelines from your local Department of Public Health, both regarding your state/region as well as any anticipated destinations.
  • Determine clear guidance about reporting and screening expectations, and communicate this early and often.
  • As with so many issues these days, this is about community trust. We may need to make sacrifices this year as a community in order to ensure a quicker return to collective health.

Flu shots. I would also like to remind you at this time to get your flu shot, if you have not done so already. It is widely available, and recommended by healthcare professionals for most people, as we enter a normal “cold and flu” season. If you have any questions, please consult your primary doctor.

 

Upcoming Training. We have officially announced our next Building Confidence Training! In the spirit of ‘building confidence’, we will be focusing this month’s session on skills building: How to Run a Tabletop, and How to Write an Emergency Operations Plan. These skills have relevance during the pandemic, throughout our recovery, and long after, and our goal is to impart you with some skills you can implement now and in the future to address any number of incidents and emergencies. Click here to learn more about this training and register (you can register up to 3 individuals from your school per registration fee)!

October 1st Updates

We are excited to share that we are offering a “bonus” webinar this Monday, October 5th at 9 am. If you’ve been a registered participant previously, you’ll automatically be registered for that session. If not, please feel free to register here

 

This webinar will primarily be focused on a couple of big announcements: 

  • On-Site COVID-19 testing in schools, and the partnership Joffe has formed to help make this happen for you!
    • This will launch in CA first, but we hope to make it available to all schools in the future!
  • Launch of our "Wings"-level monthly membership subscription. This new membership option includes a portfolio of recorded trainings and training decks to support you through the ‘now’ and into the ‘next’!
  • Reflections on what to expect throughout October as we continue to move forward one day, one challenge, at a time 
  • As always, we’ll lean in on as many questions as we can possibly dig in on! 

November 3rd is Election Day and this is our opportunity to exercise our right to vote! Since March, there have been varying, evolving directives and recommendations in different parts of our country regarding staying at home orders. This could present some questions, so it is important to know your local options regarding voting in person, drive-by drop off, and mail-in or absentee ballots. We encourage you to visit this link to make the choice that is right for you. Further, we'd encourage you to talk with your community about the resources and options to vote available in your area. 

 

As we look to the future and begin imagining and planning our school reopening, we have even more choices. Earlier in the summer, schools outlined various options for distance learning, in-person instruction, and hybrids of the two. We encourage you to refine plans for your next phase of reopening, with distance learning continuing to be an ongoing option for the school year. These plans should continue to be transparently shared through school communications, Town Halls, websites, and parent portals. 

 

We hope that you are continuing to follow your local health directives, wear your face coverings, and explore your options for this season’s flu shot. As we approach cold and flu season, it is especially critical to monitor symptoms and encourage everyone in the community to stay home when they do not feel well. We're hearing from our schools that people are generally "following the rules" and for that, we celebrate! 

September 17th Updates

While we have missed our weekly webinars and conversations each week, we want to remind you that we are still hosting regular monthly webinars. If you’ve been a registered participant previously, you’ll automatically be registered for the next session (September 28 at 9am PST). If not, please feel free to register here!

 

On the 28th, we're lucky enough to be joined by Megan Mann, from the National Association of Independent Schools, who will be covering a host of topics including: 

  • Communication, governance, & employment challenges
  • Athletics, privacy and consent to record
  • Navigating political discourse 

We have also officially opened registration for our next live training. As a part of our pivot from sprint into marathon mode, we are launching a regular monthly training series called Building Confidence. The goal is exactly that: each month we will take a deep dive on a different topic, with the goal of building toward growth and confidence in All Things School Safety.

 

Our next offering will be October 2nd, 9:00 - 2:00 PST / 12:00 - 5:00 EST, and will be focused on Emergency Planning During the Pandemic: how do we plan for drills? What are considerations this year in particular as we juggle wildfires, storms and hurricanes, civil unrest, and more...all while the pandemic is still underway? Learn more about that training and register here.

 

The school year has officially begun! Now that everyone has returned to school--whether in-person, through a hybrid model, or 100% distance learning--we are back! We know that each family and each school or district has their own unique set of considerations with which to maneuver our current pandemic reality. For example, we know that a number of schools have been struggling with how to address poor air quality concerns while adhering to pandemic prevention strategies. To that end, we have developed some guidance about Air Quality During COVID-19 that you can access here.

 

As we navigate this and many other challenges, we still have compelling and sometimes critical reasons to continue professional development, health education, resource sharing, social-emotional support, and regular communication.

 

What does this mean? With continuous monitoring of the unpredictable COVID-19 pandemic situation and regional events such as wildfires and hurricanes, we are juggling multiple scenarios and creating best practices that work for institutions of all sizes and geographic placement. It continues to be critical today to communicate intentions, planning, and planned program execution with teachers, families, and the community to answer the rumbling “what if” scenarios that people begin formulating as soon as they wake up and digest the day’s news. School leaders know that it’s best to send communications that proactively address school plans before receiving 25 emails at 7:00 am.

The good news is that we are prepared. We have been preparing for a variety of emergency scenarios for years (if not necessarily all at the same time)--and we have contingencies for learning at school or from home. We have implemented plans and procedures to help protect our students, faculty, and campuses safe.

We posit that the key to reassuring the families and empowering the faculty are the 3Cs:

  • Calm. The less we appear stressed, and the more we demonstrate our planning and intentions, the more calm our parents, teachers, students will be. They will be reassured that school has a plan, will be more willing to be patient with the unknowns, and will be more likely to understand and respect the proactive measures taken by the school. To support us in this, we must remember to recharge. Read more about the importance of that here.
  • Communication. The more we communicate, not just content, but through multiple channels, the more informed the community will be. This community is comprised of current families, past families, as well as prospective families looking for their next “home”.
  • Community: the heart of why we do what we do. A school’s purpose is to educate the next generation, and it is central to our mission that we do this as safely as possible. The critical partnership between schools and families has grown exponentially in 2020. Don’t forget that we have some sample communications and other resources available for free in our Foundations Portal here.

We are also fortunate to share resources with one another as we truly are all in this together. The school websites and parent portals that were created this Spring with COVID-19 resources can and should be updated with the most current topical information, such as how to discern whether symptoms are from the wildfire smoke exposure or from COVID-19. And as each resource is aggregated, these can now be shared through the school’s website link and hyperlinked on Family Handbooks, in addition to their inclusion in school communications.

 

Here are some actionable items to explore in the next 30 days: 

  • Update resource links on website/parent portals to include non-COVID-19 health and safety resources, flag as *New*.
  • Include new topical items in teacher/family communications. Encourage teachers to refer to these updates in their communications and to communicate clearly with parents why the school is taking certain actions (ie, closing a school that has been “open” for on-campus learning due to evacuations/poor air quality). 
  • Continue regular communication channels as well as Town Halls and opportunities for Q&A with teachers and parents, to keep relationships strong and deepen the trust in the community.

Thank you for sharing this journey with us. 

September 3rd Updates

First, a reminder that our weekly cadence has come to a close and as such, the next scheduled webinar we’ll be holding will be on September 28th at 9am PST/12pm EST! 

If you’ve been a registered participant previously, you’ll automatically be registered for that session. If not, please feel free to register here

Thank you so much for your partnership with us in the summer sprint. We can't tell you how much it's meant to have such a strong, engaged, and dedicated community of schools join us so diligently week after week. We hope the weekly format has helped you feel supported, and reminded you that we are, and always will be, stronger together in this challenging time.

Moving into the fall, we are transitioning our cadence - as are many of you - from 'sprint' into 'marathon'. We are adjusting from response to the Now into planning for the Next and the Later. Accordingly, we will be adjusting our webinars to a monthly cadence. While we will miss 'seeing' you all each week, we are looking forward to the new possibilities this will open up for us in developing our longer-term strategies for support.

Similarly, we will be sending out our newsletters on a monthly basis as well, rather than weekly. We will be alternating between the webinar and the newsletter, so you will hear from us in one or the other format biweekly.

 

We recognize that this may feel like a significant shift for some of you who have been weekly participants, so if you are interested in engaging with us more regularly we do have monthly fee subscription offerings as well:

  • Consultation: Monthly or Biweekly consultation calls, optional customized trainings and resources, ongoing access to our team of consultants and responders
  • Membership: Recorded trainings and more frequent webinars will be accessible to monthly members. This is not quite yet launched as we have been finalizing our transition from 'sprint' into the 'marathon' mode. We are making some adjustments to our Membership ("Wings") offering and will be opening that up shortly

If you have questions about training options, consultation, or more, please drop us a line at support@joffeemergencyservices.com and we will arrange a time to discuss your unique needs!

 

Please continue to send us your questions, share your victories and bring together our collective resources! We will continue to use your feedback to address specific topics during the webinars and newsletters, as well as formulate additional ways we can support you.

 

Finally, we are pleased to share that there are some additional communications templates available through our Foundations program! If you haven't already done so, get registered for that free program here Learn.JoffeEmergencyServices.com. Some of the new communications templates we are sharing out this week include the following:

  • Positive Case of a Student (no Exposure on Campus)
  • Positive Case of a Student (with Exposure/Campus impact)
  • Positive Case - Non-Student/Employee

Additionally, we are sharing out an example of a Template Vacation/Travel Protocol and Family Agreement through the portal at Learn.JoffeEmergencyServices.com

Together we will solve the hurdles in the “later”. As always, I am but an email away. We are in this together, so please reach out for assistance. I or my colleagues will get back to you as soon as possible. 

We will always be #StrongerTogether.

August 27th Updates

First, a quick reminder that we’ll be offering a low-stress, high-impact webinar on Monday morning at 9 am PST. If you’re not already registered, please feel free to do so here. Next week, we’ll dig into these topics and more: 

  • Reflections on schools who have started the reopening process and/or completed it 
  • Testing updates for schools who are working on strategy for testing going forward 
  • Summary of the ways in which our team plans to support you throughout the year 
  • As always, we’ll lean in on as many questions as we can possibly dig in on! 

I’d like to launch into this note by asking you to do what we do at every Monday webinar: take a deep breath.

 

Since the early days in January, when we first heard the whispers of a new and incredibly contagious “novel” coronavirus, schools have been in a constant never ending cycle of receiving and digesting information, critical decision-making, and continuous dissemination of news and updates to all constituencies. 

 

We landed in this new, ever-changing landscape without a roadmap. We’ve adopted and popularized new vocabulary from “flattening the curve” and “physical distancing” to “distance learning” and “proper face coverings.” We’ve studied the latest data, learned medical terminology, and studied health recommendations to make thoughtful and informed decisions about how to run our operations without missing a beat. Behind the scenes, multiple scenarios were designed to protect our communities. 

 

In this new “working from home” landscape, communications teams have created new pages and portals on their websites to inform current and prospective parents. Heads of Schools have hosted virtual Town Halls, and teachers have shared their personal phone numbers to reassure and support families when they weren’t teaching online. Schools have been under constant pressure to communicate with teachers, families, and the wider community to inform, comfort, and to be as transparent as possible about closures and reopenings.

 

Here are a few actions you can take to ensure your communication plan is doing what it should in the next 30 - 45 days: 

  • Establish a dedicated page on your website geared to providing updates (give parents a place to check for the ‘latest/greatest’ information they can capture). 
  • Establish a routine communication cadence where you’re updating parents, faculty and staff on what’s working and what’s not working. Don’t forget to include speaking points for teachers and/or parents to update students, too. 
  • Establish a routine communication cadence with your Department of Public Health. Develop a meaningful and robust relationship with them by staying in touch (an email every other week, a call once a month, change it up if you like, but keep the relationship strong). 
  • Establish a partnership with a crisis communications expert. Many of you know we trust The Jane Group as our go to resource for this. We’d encourage you to setup a conversation and get a firm like theirs in your corner proactively. 

One upside to the Zoom meetings and webinars, is that we’ve met partners throughout the country, united in ways we couldn’t imagine at the beginning of 2020. We have connected with peer schools locally, regionally, and nationally to share resources, stories, and innovative ways to educate our students.  

 

Through this barrage of communicating,  we’ve been reminded that we are stronger together. We have come together. Learned together. Grown together.  We continue to care for each other, and focus on the heart of our institutions: the people.

Thank you for sharing this journey with us.

__

Below, I’m elevating a few items that I think would be worth a second glance (we’ve heard lots of questions around these topics, so I want to ensure you have this info handy): 

  1. Train Your Pandemic Coordinators: 
    • This 4-hour course will help you ensure you and your team are on track as we close out the Summer and gear up for the Fall. Learn more about the course content and structure here.
  2. Do you have vendors lined up for testing?
    • Join the dialogue here and add to the sheet, take vendors from the sheet and help us grow this to provide a cohesive list of options for you and schools around you!
  3. Get Registered For Support:
    • Sign up for AT LEAST a free membership on Learn.JoffeEmergencyServices.com to ensure you always have access to the resources of this incredible community! 

August 20th Updates

First, a quick reminder that we’ll be offering a low-stress, high-impact webinar on Monday morning at 9am PST. If you’re not already registered, please feel free to do so here. Next week, we’ll dig in to these topics and more: 

  • What emergency drills should we be preparing for this year? And, how? 
  • What is working and not working in presenting to faculty and staff? Parents?
  • We have a question we’ll ask you: 
    • How can we best support this growing community after Labor Day? What would be most useful to you? 
  • As always, we’ll lean in on as many questions as we can possibly dig in on! 

I’d like to launch into this note by asking you to do what we do on every Monday webinar: take a deep breath. 

 

Wherever you are in your journey to the resumption of education -- congratulations! Your work this spring and summer is paying off and you’re now getting to see smiling faces of students, whether that’s online or in person (in which case, I hope you’re just seeing smiling eyes - you know, because they have their masks on)! I’m so grateful for you, your leadership and your persistence. You inspire me every single day. 

 

For schools that are resuming in person, I’ll share with you that in our network of schools, (1,800+), the theme that keeps emerging is that our students are more resilient to these changes than we are as adults. They’re “following the rules” and they’re happy to see one another and the adults on campus. I’ve heard from dozens of teachers, now, that the moment students arrived, the palpable tension that existed in planning was gone. It had been replaced by joy and excitement. I know that might not resonate with you, yet, especially if you yourself are mid-palpable-tension. That said, I hope you’ll keep an eye out for the moment that tension is replaced by joy. Even more, I hope that’s just around the corner. 

 

For schools that are resuming virtually, congratulations! You’ve conquered the tough decisions that led up to this moment and you’ll get to see even more smiling faces soon (unless they’re back already!). One area that has surfaced for you all is the challenge of determining what on campus activity can/should occur as long as students are remote. Deciding (based on what is allowed by public health, etc.) which groups may return and which groups may not is a weighted and challenging conversation. In general, the theme I’m hearing is make your decision and be clear about that decision being in effect for 30 days at a time. We only know so much at this point, so let’s keep reassessing our decisions on a schedule to ensure we keep making the best decision for the community and for the moment. 

 

Below, I’m recirculating a few items that I think would be worth a second glance (we’ve heard lots of questions around these topics, so I want to ensure you have this info handy): 

  1. Train Your Pandemic Coordinators: 
    • This 4-hour course will help you ensure you and your team are on track as we close out the Summer and gear up for the Fall. Learn more about the course content and structure here.
  2. Do You Need An Electrostatic Sprayer(s)?
    • If you would like a sprayer, click here for more information! Note: We will be placing an order on August 21st (tomorrow!), so if you’d like to receive yours in September, please submit by then.
  3. Do you have vendors lined up for testing?
    • Join the dialogue here and add to the sheet, take vendors from the sheet and help us grow this to provide a cohesive list of options for you and schools around you! 
  4. Get Registered For Support:
    • Sign up for AT LEAST a free membership on Learn.JoffeEmergencyServices.com to ensure you always have access to the resources of this incredible community! 

August 13th Updates

First, a quick reminder that we’ll be offering a low-stress, high-impact webinar on Monday morning at 9am PST. If you’re not already registered, please feel free to do so here. Next week, we’ll dig in to these topics and more: 

  • Live troubleshooting for challenges you’re facing
  • A brief conversation on data you're using -- or not using -- for reopening/closing campus and how to frame it (highlights are below)
  • As always, we’ll lean in on as many questions as we can possibly dig in on! 

I’d like to launch into this note by asking you to do what we do on every Monday webinar: take a deep breath. 

 

I don’t know about you, but this week it’s catching up to me. I’m tired, I’m a little grumpy and most importantly, I still haven’t had a hair cut. If you’re anything like me, you have good days and bad days, or maybe good weeks and bad weeks through this experience. I wish I had something profound to say that would help you (or me) get through the bad weeks. The truth is, bad weeks happen, they suck, and we keep putting one foot in front of the other.

 

Not that everything has to come back to a running metaphor, but, it’s how you finish a marathon, right? One foot. Next foot. One foot. Next foot. 60,000 times. Some of those steps suck, some of them show you strength you didn’t realize you had, some of them are just steps. Wherever you are as you’re reading this, I want to remind you that our challenge is to simply keep stepping, keep caring and keep reinforcing the work we’ve done over the last 22 weeks. The protocols, policies, and guidelines will come into place. It’s the people we need to stay focused on.  

 

These next few weeks might be a sprint for your community if you’re returning to on campus education. If that’s the case, please calendar NOW the end of that sprint (aim for 4 weeks at a time). Let’s get intentional about caring for one another by ensuring that we don’t ask our teams to sprint an entire marathon. We sprint when we have to, but we should be at a pace we can withstand for the whole year in other times. 

 

A few key items to share with you this week: 

 

Do You Need An Electrostatic Sprayer(s)? 

We were pleased to connect with Marriott International and learn of the electrostatic spray equipment that their corporation has procured for their global portfolio of hotels. Marriott has graciously extended their support to offer priority to schools and community organizations who have urgent need for a COVID-19 sanitation resource. We're incredibly grateful for Marriott's willingness to support our schools and we thank the school who facilitated this introduction in the first place! If you would like a sprayer, click here for more information! Note: We will be placing an order on August 21st, so if you’d like to receive yours in September, please submit by then. 

 

A New Opportunity For Learning: 

You asked, we’re ready! In response to popular demand, we have created a shorter and more accessible version of our Pandemic Coordinator Training course. This 4-hour course will help you ensure you and your team are on track as we close out the Summer and gear up for the Fall. Learn more about the course content and structure here.

 

Making “Data Driven Decisions” For Our Schools: 

One of the biggest hurdles we've been running into time and time again since the start of the pandemic is the question of data. How do we develop policies that are specific enough to alleviate anxiety in the community? At what point do we decide to close? At what point is it 'safe' to open? How many cases of illness is our decision point to shift models?

 

As schools, we are not responsible for or expected to develop our own quantitative metrics. We are responsible for accessing and interpreting the metrics and recommendations provided by epidemiologists and public health departments, and developing an internal plan for responding to that data. We don't want to codify percentages or numbers that might shift and change, and that don't necessarily take into account all of the nuances. We want to codify our strategy for planning and response.

 

Our plans should be specific to the outcome, not specific to the input. 

 

For example: Rather than stating in your plan, "If illness rate in our school reaches x%, we will immediately shift into our distance-learning model," what would it look like to say, "The school's pandemic response team will meet on an x basis to assess illness levels in the community, and will consult with public health regularly to determine the need to shift learning models. If there is a determination to close the school, our community will be notified through y means, and our status will be reassessed on a z basis." You'll see that there are in fact numbers in the second example - they are just numbers that we can be confident about committing to.

 

The bottom line is: whatever we put in our policy, we should be confident about. We may not know what leading experts will recommend in terms of metrics for closure, but we do know our team's plan for responding to that data.

 

Do you have vendors lined up for testing? 

Good news! We’re crowdsourcing a sheet, as we’ve done with other commonly needed resources to compile a list of testing options for you. Join the dialogue here and add to the sheet, take vendors from the sheet and help us grow this to provide a cohesive list of options for you and schools around you! 

August 6th Updates

First, a quick reminder that we’ll be offering a low-stress, high-impact webinar on Monday morning at 9am PST. If you’re not already registered, please feel free to do so here. Next week, we’ll dig in to these topics and more: 

  • We're crowdsourcing a vendor list for testing!
  • Pods, on campus activities, feedback on some schools’ aim to have some students return 
  • Chunking decisions, chunking timelines and remaining nimble 
  • As always, we’ll lean in on as many questions as we can possibly dig in on! 

I’d like to launch into this note by asking you to do what we do on every Monday webinar: take a deep breath. 

 

For some, this week marks a decision to move to a virtual environment for the start of school, for others, this week has been focused on double checking strategies for on campus education to return. For others, yet, this week marked the return of students to hallways. Wherever you are on that decision making spectrum, congrats! Final decisions should still be in pencil, but they should be celebrated! 

 

Having seen some of the news coverage of the most challenging return to school environments, it’s easy and appropriate to reassess what you were thinking about your own return to school. 

  • Can we maintain compliance with the safety standards we’ve established? 
  • Do we have plans in place to manage students, faculty, and staff (and others) who break the rules? 
  • Do we have the PPE we need to remain compliant with local and state regulations? 
  • Do we have the mechanisms in place to stop or slow the spread in the event that we have a positive case? 

These are important questions. Questions that many of our schools have been reckoning with all summer. Questions you may well already have the answers to! 

 

I want to remind you that there are schools in parts of our country choosing to open and doing so in a way that is consistent with the guidelines and orders that are in place. Similarly, there are schools choosing to remain closed because they’re not ready to adhere to those guidelines right now. Of course there are others, still, who are complying with orders requiring off-campus learning to take place. None of these scenarios are inherently wrong. We posit that if you continue to lead with the items below in the forefront of your mind, you can make the best decision and be prepared to pivot when needed: 

  • Keep breathing. 
  • Keep making the best decisions you possibly can with the information available to you. 
  • Keep taking care of yourself and your community. (Put your own mask on first, though). 

One piece of clarity that I’d encourage you to leverage is the poster at the bottom of this note (feel free to recreate it if you’d like to with your own logo). There are both organizational and individual principles to adhere to. Something as simple as this image might help ground your community in those pillars or principles. 

 

Additionally, I want to take a moment to remind you of a few key resources that are available on our Covid-Support Site

  • Updated screening app comparison list 
  • Copy of the below poster for your own use 
  • Slide Deck from the webinar on managing a positive case of Covid-19 including questions to ask your local DPH 
  • As always, more resources being added as fast as we can create or share them

July 30th Updates

First, a quick reminder that we’ll be offering a low-stress, high-impact webinar on Monday morning at 9am PST. If you’re not already registered, please feel free to do so here. Next week, we’ll dig in to these topics and more: 

  • Quick overview of CA Strategy for reopening schools 
  • What happens when you have a case of Covid-19 on campus? A full run through! 
  • As always, we’ll lean in on as many questions as we can possibly dig in on! 

I’d like to launch into this note by asking you to do what we do on every Monday webinar: take a deep breath. 

 

As we continue to navigate through some uncertainty, the word I keep hearing used in our dialogues with school leaders is “overwhelmed”. I want to first acknowledge that many of us are feeling that -- together -- and many of us are developing strategies to continue to lead through that and empathize with others in our respective communities who share that burden. At the start of the Coronavirus Response, I clung to a set of principles that was shared by one of our regional associations of independent schools. Simple, almost poetic, and freeing: Now, Next, Later.

 

As we shift in and out of moments of being overwhelmed, I encourage you to come back to those principles again today. 

  • What are the things we need to do now
    • Communicate. Listen. Lead. 
    • Put one foot in front of the next as the days go by and our pathway to resuming school codifies.
    • Continue to iterate on the plans and pivots we’ve already executed. 
    • Care deeply for our communities and show it at every turn. 
    • Any long-lead time item purchases and facilities changes that we hope to have in place for the start of school. 
  • What are the things we can give ourselves permission to tackle next
    • Finalizing our documents for return to school. 
    • Establishing the “perfect” cleaning regimen complete with who, what, how, where and when. 
    • Managing distribution of food, tech and any other ‘stuff’ that needs to get out to students for a potential (or confirmed) virtual start. 
  • What are the things we can give ourselves permission to tackle later?
    • Everything else. 

It’s unrealistic to have the perfect plan. As leaders, we tend to put an exorbitant amount of pressure on ourselves to have the whole plan, communicate the whole plan and avoid change. Instead, in this moment, the most successful leaders are communicating paradigms of decision making: 

  • We will resume school in a manner that’s compliant with the public health requirements. How, when, and where will be determined by those. 
  • We’ll resume school with a priority for students with special and unique needs being able to return to buildings first. 
  • We’ll resume school with an emphasis on our youngest students returning first. 

Maybe your statement is as simple as “we’ll resume education”. 

 

Whatever your choice, we’re all going to be a messy work in progress for a while. Prioritizing safety, upholding guidelines and listening to our communities, we posit, will be the strategies that the most successful communities elevate in the weeks ahead. 

 

Reminder: Enroll as (at least) a free member at Joffe's Covid-Support Site. This will provide all resources in a single place. Our aim is to create a "cut through the noise, all angles support infrastructure".

July 24th Updates

First, a quick reminder that we’ll be offering a low-stress, high-impact webinar on Monday morning at 9am PST/12pm EST. If you’re not already registered, please feel free to do so here. Next week, we’ll dig in to these topics and more: 

  • Faculty & staff commitments we can and can not make 
  • Strategies and language for people who are concerned about the return to school 
  • What happens when you have a case of Covid-19 on campus? A full run through. 
  • As always, we’ll lean in on as many questions as we can possibly dig in on! 

I’d like to launch into this note by asking you to do what we do on every Monday webinar: take a deep breath. 

 

As we see guidelines for reopening updated on a daily basis, we recognize that schools across the nation are looking for resources to provide teachers with options for coronavirus tests. For testing sites, check the Dept. of Health and Human Services website here, or your local health department.

 

Depending on your area, there may be requirements around or priorities made for testing of "essential workers". You can use this resource to find out if your state has outlined school employees as essential workers (pro-tip: search documents for 'school' not 'teacher'!).

 

For our California schools, you’re being asked to test routinely. We anticipate that some other states will fall into this category too. There are 2 general strategies that you can choose to use (again, assuming that your local City, State or County hasn’t said otherwise): 

  1. Have teachers/staff test themselves on a schedule. In CA, this might be having 50% of staff tested each month to have all staff tested over the course of a 60 day period. In this scenario, they would do so at a local testing site (For California schools, here’s a resource to help them find a local (hopefully convenient) testing site). 
  2. Secure a vendor for onsite or at home testing. Organizations such as Vault Health are conducting testing on a paid basis for communities. Vault Health (using them as an example) provides options for at home supervised tests or on site testing. 

Whichever you choose, it’s important to ensure that you’re documenting your strategy for testing within your Covid-19 Response Plan, Operations Plan or Playbook (using those three names, but whatever you choose to call your "big document” that houses your response strategy). Additionally, while you should consult with your legal team for the "how", it’s important to determine a method you’ll use to track when people have been tested so you can ensure you remain compliant. 

 

Finally, a few of our schools have suggested that faculty and staff have had concerns about testing. While we can’t and won’t speak to privacy issues (it’s just not our lane), we will address the root “why” here. You’re invited to copy and paste to folks who are pushing back! 

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Testing is one of many strategies that municipalities are implementing as a part of the effort to stop the spread of Covid-19. Testing alone is indeed not a solution. There’s no secret that a “negative/Covid-19 free” test result is only as good as the moment it was taken. That said, like Batching, Monitoring and Reducing Time & Exposure, testing is used as one theme that enables municipalities to have high-quality data on the number of people testing positive and the efficacy of the myriad of simultaneous strategies being implemented. 

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Reminder: Don’t forget to enroll as (at least a free) member at Joffe's Covid-Support Site. This will provide all resources in a single place. Our aim is to create a "cut through the noise, all-angles support infrastructure".

July 17th Updates

First, a quick reminder that we’ll be offering a low-stress, high-impact webinar on Monday morning at 9am PST. If you’re not already registered, please feel free to do so here. Next week, we’ll dig in to these topics and more: 

  • A follow up on the data from our testing survey
  • Lessons learned from locations where students are/have been back
  • How our team is prepared to support you for next year
  • As always, we’ll lean in on as many questions as we can possibly dig in on! 

If you haven’t yet, please help us to expand our data by completing this short (>2min) survey on testing.

 

I’d like to launch into this note by asking you to do what we do on every Monday webinar: take a deep breath. 

 

New guidance has been released in many cities, states, and counties within the past week. Have you checked to see if there are changes for you? As you are working with your team to build your plan towards reopening I would encourage you to assign someone on the team to check for updates at a minimum once a week (I’m strongly encouraging schools to do this on Monday from 9-9:05 while we do the webinar intros!) Fortunately we are getting these helpful resources with more regularity. Unfortunately, distribution/notification of when something has been updated or released isn’t as regular. Sometimes it takes rereading them to find nuance changes that can have a great impact on our plans.

 

Johns Hopkins has collaborated on an excellent resource for tracking state guidance and policies as they are updated. Access that here

 

This coming week, as referenced above, we will dive into lessons learned from locations where students are back. We will be joined by two Health Coordinators from opposite sides of the country to tell us about their experience being on a campus with students present. They will share what’s working, what’s been hard, and what has surprised them. Do you have questions about how masks really are working for young children? They can’t wait to share their experience with you. 

 

As a reminder, a resource you should be checking in with is the Joffe's Covid-Support Site. Enrollment to the site is free. Recently we have added a Pandemic Response Plan Example and a Screening Application Comparison document. Just today we added the first of what will be many free to use sign templates that you will be able to print yourself and place around your school. Below are two such examples.

StaffstudentsONLYTwentyseconds

Together we will solve the hurdles in the “later”. As always, I am but an email away. We are in this together, so please reach out for assistance. I or my colleagues will get back to you as soon as possible.

July 13th Updates

Thank you for joining our call earlier today (or aiming to for those who weren't able!). We've learned that many of you are forwarding these notes to listservs and local schools - thank you! If someone forwarded this email to you, first we're grateful!, second, please feel free to register for our updates here

 

A few resources for each of you: 

Additionally, we shared a few key resources on the call today, those are offered below: 

Want to access past webinars? All past webinars and slide decks are now easily accessible on Joffe's one-shop-stop COVID-19 school portal at learn.joffeemergencyservices.com.

 

We will continue to monitor updates and share resources as they become available. I have also been regularly tweeting updates and information, invite you to follow me on Twitter at @JoffeChris for more regular Q&A and updates!

 

Hope to see you again next Monday at 9am PST!

July 9th Updates

First, a quick reminder that we’ll be offering a low-stress, high-impact webinar on Monday morning at 9am PST. If you’re not already registered, please feel free to do so here. Next week, we’ll dig in to these topics and more: 

  • So what’s the deal with testing?
  • What does confidence building training look like? What does that mean? 
  • Where are you on the “journey to the start of school”?
  • As always, we’ll lean in on as many questions as we can possibly dig in on! 

Please help us in preparing for the webinar by completing this short (>2min) survey on testing.

 

I’d like to launch into this note by asking you to do what we do on every Monday webinar: take a deep breath. 

 

There is a lot going on in the local and national news this week about schools and reopening. How are you and your teams digesting it? What is really happening and what will affect our plans? Refreshed/updated guidelines are sure to be coming, we have been expecting this. You’ve been ready for this. I encourage you to  plan with what you currently have access to, while checking regularly for those updates of local, county, state, and federal.  Work in pencil, not pen. This is a marathon and we will keep going on creating the healthiest environment possible. 

 

As we work on our plans for this coming year, one thing we should all plan for is training. It is my firm belief that to create the safest environment possible, we must clearly articulate our expectations for all community members. With that being said, you should have training for faculty / staff, students, and families as part of your process for the start of the year. But what needs to be covered? To get you started we have generated an outline of topics we suggest you include during those training sessions. These are just a starting point, make sure and cover your community specific expectations for the coming year. 

 

Above all else, your training should be anchored in the idea that we are transparently building confidence. Talk about the risks. Inform and engage people in authentic conversations. Talk about all that we can do to make school the healthiest environment possible. Smile. Breathe. 

 

Faculty / Staff Training

  • Covid-19 Basics 
    • How does it spread
    • Signs and symptoms 
  • Prevention Strategies -> include school-specific policies and protocols about the following:
    • Health and Hygiene
    • Symptom screening and temperature checks
    • Face Coverings 
    • Physical Distancing
    • Limiting Gatherings
    • Quarantine
  • Staff Expectations -> new duties or responsibilities this year (screening, bus monitoring, cleaning, etc.)
  • Contact Tracing -> walkthrough a ‘positive case’ scenario
  • HR changes or procedures this year
  • Emergency drill changes, as appropriate
  • Resources for questions, concerns, and employee support

 

Student Training

  • Covid-19 Basics 
    • How does it spread
    • Signs and symptoms 
  • Changes to your school day -> schedule and school supply expectations
    • Pickup and dropoff
    • Cohorts
    • Classes: school supplies, teacher rotation, learning technologies, desks, etc.
    • Bathrooms
    • Meals
    • Outdoor / play time
    • After school / before school care
    • Enrichment classes and specialists
  • Health, Hygiene, PPE expectations
    • Schedules for procedures like handwashing and temperature screening
    • Age-oriented demonstration of procedures, as appropriate
      • Screening procedures
      • Hand washing
      • Masks
      • Cleaning
      • Traffic flow
    • Health Office / health point person
  • New community building efforts / planned events
  • Who to talk to about concerns

Family Training

All training presented to students with the addition of:

  • Pre-screening procedures and requirements 
  • Self-reporting expectations
  • When to Keep Your Student Home
  • Emergency drill changes, as appropriate
  • Outside of school expectations (travel, play groups, academic support, carpools, etc.)
  • Our plan for exposures 
    • Planning for the possibility of cohort isolation
    • Readiness to temporarily return to distance learning
  • Plan for ongoing communication, outreach, and engagement of families throughout the year
    • School’s point of contact for family concerns and support
  • Q&A

Again, these are starting points. I’d encourage you to work with your team and make sure you get anything and everything covered to give clear expectations for everyone in your community. These training sessions are a strong resource in helping prepare your community to be as safe as possible. 

 

Speaking of resources, we have just added two new resources to Joffe's Covid-Support Site. We have added a Pandemic Response Plan Example and a Screening Application Comparison document to the resource section. Please log in to access these as well as the many other resources. Not a member? Join! It's free!

 

Together we will solve the hurdles in the “later”. As always, I am but an email away. We are in this together, so please reach out for assistance. I or my colleagues will get back to you as soon as possible. 

July 6th Updates

Thank you for joining our call earlier today (or aiming to for those who weren't able!). We've learned that many of you are forwarding these notes to listservs and local schools - thank you! If someone forwarded this email to you, first we're grateful!, second, please feel free to register for our updates here

 

A few resources for each of you: 

Additionally, we shared a few key resources on the call today, those are offered below: 

Want to access past webinars? All past webinars and slide decks are now easily accessible on Joffe's one-shop-stop COVID-19 school portal at learn.joffeemergencyservices.com.

 

We will continue to monitor updates and share resources as they become available. I have also been regularly tweeting updates and information, invite you to follow me on Twitter at @JoffeChris for more regular Q&A and updates!

 

Hope to see you again next Monday at 9am PST!

July 2nd Updates

First, a quick reminder that we’ll be offering a low-stress, high-impact webinar on Monday morning at 9am PST. If you’re not already registered, please feel free to do so here. Next week, we’ll dig in to these topics and more: 

  • Contact Tracing: what to expect, what to know, what to do? 
  • Refresh access to resources 
  • Setting the cadence for now through the start of the school year (pro-tip: we're still in the marathon phase)
  • As always, we’ll lean in to additional questions that come up throughout our time together!

I’d like to launch into this note by asking you to do what we do on every Monday webinar: take a deep breath. 

 

I know it was only a few weeks ago that I was able to congratulate you on making it through graduation and the end of the year, but the countdown to the start of the school year has started. If your heart rate and breathing just went back up again by that statement, I encourage you to take another deep breath. We have work ahead of us to make sure our schools are as safe as they can be for this coming year. What we are planning to do right now can seem unreachable because of the size and scope of the challenges, but we can do it. 

To reground your thoughts on the work we have ahead of us I invite you to watch a 12-minute video by Dr. Prabhjot Singh as he discusses what our planning should look like for this coming year.

image

Did that help calm some anxiety? It helped me. To reinforce what Dr. Prabhjot Singh said: you have done this before, we have done this before. While risk can’t be eliminated, we can work to reduce it. Batching, reducing exposure, and monitoring. Three things that are present, I would wager, in all the guidance that we have been using to help us plan. By embracing those concepts we can reduce the risks within our community.

 

A quick summary of resources you should be checking in with: 

  • Enroll as a free member at Joffe's Covid-Support Site
    • This will provide all resources in a single place. Aim is to create a "cut through the noise, all angles support infrastructure"
  • Sign up for the Pandemic Coordinator Training (new dates are live! Due to high demand, we’re adding some additional dates too). 
    • Note: At the start of this response, we committed that price shall not be a barrier to safety. If you can’t cover the full cost of the training, email “Support@JoffeEmergencyServices.com” a price that you can manage and we’ll give you a coupon code. 

Together we will solve the hurdles in the “later”. As always, I am but an email away. We are in this together, so please reach out for assistance. I or my colleagues will get back to you as soon as possible.

June 29th Updates

Thank you for joining our call earlier today (or aiming to for those who weren't able!). We've learned that many of you are forwarding these notes to listservs and local schools - thank you! If someone forwarded this email to you, first we're grateful!, second, please feel free to register for our updates here

 

A few resources for each of you: 

We know that the budget year comes to a close tomorrow, folks have reached out and asked to sign up for our next Pandemic Coordinator training before that deadline. We have accelerated the sign up process for our July (July 28-31, Aug 4-5) training to make sure those of you that wanted to or needed to could do so ASAP. To sign up please visit this link.

 

Want to access past webinars? All past webinars and slide decks are now easily accessible on Joffe's one-shop-stop COVID-19 school portal at learn.joffeemergencyservices.com.

 

We will continue to monitor updates and share resources as they become available. I have also been regularly tweeting updates and information, invite you to follow me on Twitter at @JoffeChris for more regular Q&A and updates!

 

Hope to see you again next Monday at 9am PST!

June 25th Updates

First, a quick reminder that we’ll be offering a low-stress, high-impact webinar on Monday morning at 9am PST. If you’re not already registered, please feel free to do so here. Next week, we’ll dig in to these topics and more: 

  • Some updated thoughts on after school and before school activities!
  • Designing spaces in a way that works for safety (see more below) 
  • A quick summary on bathrooms (more to follow in a future webinar)
  • As always, we’ll lean in to additional questions that come up throughout our time together! 

I’d like to launch into this note by asking you to do what we do on every Monday webinar: take a deep breath. (By request, I tweeted out the GIF we’ve been using so you can use this in your own presentations). I can’t underscore enough the importance of checking in with ourselves. As we are progressing into reopening schools and the time crunch is ever present, I want to remind everyone that if this were easy, we wouldn’t be having these thoughtful conversations. There is a quote by Colin Powell, that I think fits so perfectly with the current time. “There are no secrets to success. It is the result of preparation, hard work, and learning...” This is exactly what each and everyone of us is doing every day, preparing, working hard, and essentially and eventually we will be learning from some challenges. 

 

I’m acutely excited about a resource that will be on our call on Monday.  Rahel Rosner, Chief Strategist at The St. Paul’s School, together with her son, Ari, developed a unique, interactive tool to help plan for the use of nearly any space on your campus.  This model originated when Ari, a mechanical engineering major at Cal Tech, witnessed his mother tackle the Herculean task of space planning in the age of physical distancing.  He created an Excel-based tool that allows users to automatically calculate student/person capacity, including desk layout.  Rahel and Ari will explain the tool and demo it in action, before taking extensive Q&A.  All registrants will receive a copy of the tool!

 

Further, as places begin to open up far and wide, and we see things such as outdoor dining proceeding in a normal fashion, please continue to be vigilant. To limit transmission, continue to perform the basic practices recommended by health officials over the past three months: Wear a mask, practice social distancing, wash your hands and, most importantly, stay home if you are sick or have symptoms.

 

A quick summary of resources you should be checking in with: 

  • Enroll as a free member at Joffe's Covid-Support Site
    • This will provide all resources in a single place. Aim is to create a "cut through the noise, all angles support infrastructure"
  • Sign up for the Pandemic Coordinator Training (new dates are live, due to high demand, we’re adding some additional dates too). 
    • Note: At the start of this response, we committed that price shall not be a barrier to safety. If you can’t cover the full cost of the training, email “Support@JoffeEmergencyServices.com” a price that you can manage and we’ll give you a coupon code. 

Together we will solve the hurdles in the “later”. As always I am but an email away. We are in this together, please reach out for assistance. I or my colleagues will get back to you as soon as possible. 

June 22nd Updates

Thank you for joining our call earlier today (or aiming to for those who weren't able!). We've learned that many of you are forwarding these notes to listservs and local schools - thank you! If someone forwarded this email to you, first we're grateful!, second, please feel free to register for our updates here

 

A few resources for each of you: 

Additionally, we shared a few key resources on the call today, those are offered below: 

Want to access past webinars? All past webinars and slide decks are now easily accessible on Joffe's one-shop-stop COVID-19 school portal at learn.joffeemergencyservices.com.

 

We will continue to monitor updates and share resources as they become available. I have also been regularly tweeting updates and information, invite you to follow me on Twitter at @JoffeChris for more regular Q&A and updates!

 

Hope to see you again next Monday at 9am PST!

June 18th Updates

First, a quick reminder that we’ll be offering a low-stress, high-impact webinar on Monday morning at 9am PST. If you’re not already registered, please feel free to do so here. Next week, we’ll dig in to these topics and more: 

  • Schedule models we’re seeing & hearing most 
  • What your healthcare leaders should be thinking about in preparation
  • How to manage physician parents and others who have thoughts about what you are (or aren’t) doing 
  • Screening, masks, gloves, etc. 
  • As always, we’ll lean into questions on your mind! 

 

I’d like to launch into this note by asking you to do what we do on every Monday webinar: take a deep breath. I can’t state enough how important I feel it is to check-in with ourselves. We are well into our marathon and I can’t emphasize enough that pacing ourselves, breathing and staying grounded in the now are incredibly important. At this point, many of you have just had your graduations and are truly into summer. Congratulations! Do you have a vacation planned? Are you going to take it? As an outside influence I am here to encourage you to take that vacation! We are all in planning mode and will be for some time. But we must take time to step back and take a break. 

 

“Rest and self-care are so important. When you take time to replenish your spirit, it allows you to serve others from the overflow. You cannot serve from an empty vessel.” - Eleanor Brown

 

As you have seen so far in this message, I’m being a little more forward in my suggestions this week. I am going to continue that with being prescriptive below on ways to make sure you have access to all the latest resources. With that, everyone should: 

 

  • Enroll as a free member at Joffe's Covid-Support Site
    • This will provide all resources in a single place. Aim is to create a "cut through the noise, all angles support infrastructure"
  • Sign up for the Pandemic Coordinator Training (for now, offered next week, but we'll share details of the next dates asap). 
    • Note: At the start of this response, we committed that price shall not be a barrier to safety. If you can’t cover the full cost of the training, email “Support@JoffeEmergencyServices.com” a price that you can manage and we’ll give you a coupon code. 
  • Develop a clear Leader, Team and Mission/Vision for the reopening project. At Joffe ours is to "be as useful as possible". For some schools, it's to "include all students" or "to build the best digital experience". Get clear, share it internally and use it as a rally cry.

Our greatest risk (beyond Covid-19 itself) continues to be leadership fatigue. Please prioritize what you can to care for yourselves, your staff & faculty and your communities as a whole. 

 

Together we will solve the hurdles in the “later”. As always I am but an email away. We are in this together, please reach out for assistance. I or my colleagues will get back to you as soon as possible.

June 15th Updates

Thank you for joining our call earlier today (or aiming to for those who weren't able!). We've learned that many of you are forwarding these notes to listservs and local schools - thank you! If someone forwarded this email to you, first we're grateful!, second, please feel free to register for our updates here

 

A few resources for each of you: 

Additionally, we shared a few key resources on the call today, those are offered below: 

Want to access past webinars? All past webinars and slide decks are now easily accessible on Joffe's one-shop-stop COVID-19 school portal at learn.joffeemergencyservices.com.

 

We will continue to monitor updates and share resources as they become available. I have also been regularly tweeting updates and information, invite you to follow me on Twitter at @JoffeChris for more regular Q&A and updates!

 

Hope to see you again next Monday at 9am PST!

June 11th Updates

First, a quick reminder that we’ll be offering a low-stress, high-impact webinar on Monday morning at 9am PST. If you’re not already registered, please feel free to do so here

 

This coming Monday we will be joined by our friend Dr. Baila Drucker, LCSW, founder and director of Project:Camp, an organization that empowers communities to foster resilience during and after disasters, for a training on considering the social-emotional resilience of your organization. Emerging data is indicating that COVID-19 has spawned a mental health crisis that may well outlast the virus itself, and Dr. B will talk about how you can protect yourselves, your employees and your students from developing toxic, traumatic stress. You will leave this training not only with an understanding of the underlying effects of this emerging crisis, but actionable steps that you can take within your school community to address them. 

 

Please help us in preparing for the webinar by completing this short (>2min) survey from Project:Camp.

 

We will also dig in to what drop off might look like with the addition of screenings, any new guidance that have been released, and have plenty of time at the end for rapid Q & A. 

 

Welcome to our next weekly check in! As always, let’s pause and take a deep breath. We know reopening is going to be a daunting task, however as we always say, the constant collaboration only makes reopening that much easier. I am sure there will be some kinks along the way and some edges to smooth, however our community continues to come together ready to support each and every school throughout this process. 

 

The WHO (World Health Organization) has emphatically stressed that much remains unknown about COVID-19. This week’s news cycle really highlights the ever changing knowledge and guidance that is being shared. This is not to say that when guidances are released or new pertinent information is shared we should not utilize them in our thinking and planning. It is more to say that we should be working in pencil, not pen. We greatly value the various safety measures that are being suggested, and we must keep abreast of the ever changing environment we are currently living in and plan for change. As President Eisinhower once said: "Plans are useless, but planning is indispensable.” 

 

One last piece: We just launched Learn.JoffeEmergencyServices.com which is the new portal for resource access and a built-in community forum. If you're not registered for that, yet, I'd love to invite you to do so. The baseline program is completely free and an easier way to stay on top of newly released resources than us sending you 300 emails as we produce them :). 

 

Together we will solve the hurdles in the “later”. As always I am but an email away. We are in this together, please reach out for assistance. I or my colleagues will get back to you as soon as possible. 

June 8th Updates

Thank you for joining our call earlier today (or aiming to for those who weren't able!). We've learned that many of you are forwarding these notes to listservs and local schools - thank you! If someone forwarded this email to you, first we're grateful!, second, please feel free to register for our updates here

 

A few resources for each of you: 

Please help us in preparing for next weeks webinar by completing this short (>2min) survey for our friends at Project: Camp!

 

We will continue to monitor updates and share resources as they become available. I have also been regularly tweeting updates and information, invite you to follow me on Twitter at @JoffeChris for more regular Q&A and updates!

 

Hope to see you again next Monday at 9am PST!

 

June 5th Updates

 

Well, it’s officially happening: Joffe is virtual!

 

We’ve talked with you over the past 15 weeks about your collective needs, concerns, challenges, questions, and (above all else) emotions related to navigating the Coronavirus pandemic. What we’ve heard is: You need someone to help cut through all the noise AND You need this service accessible virtually.

 

We have been hard at work trying to figure out how to deliver on our promise to support your communities through the summer, into this coming school year, and beyond. We are delighted to share with you the release of our online platform!

 

(Because we wanted to get you resources quickly, we are releasing this in two phases. More on the second phase below.)

 

First and foremost: What was free to all is still free to all. We stand by our commitment that cost should never be a barrier to safety, so our online resources are still available to anyone! Once you set up an account with our free - yes, free! - Foundations Program, on our new platform, you will additionally gain access to our complete library of past recorded webinars.

 

Second: Registration is now open for our first Pandemic Coordinator Training! This will be happening virtually from June 23 - July 1. In this training, your school representative will gain all the tools and confidence they need to set you and your community up for success, as well as earning your school a Joffe Pandemic Coordinator Certification. If you are interested in learning more about the training, see more details here. Please note: We are capping this training at 75 participants, so register soon! (Payment will hold your place, and you can decide on your school designee at a later date.)

 

Additionally, in July we will be releasing our brand-new monthly Membership and Coaching Programs! These programs will allow different levels of engagement and support to match different budgets and needs. You can find out more about these programs and sign up to receive updates on the launch dates from our main page.

 

Finally, we want to say thank you. Thank you for all the work you have been doing and continue to do. Thank you for your feedback, questions, challenges, and ideas. Thank you for your patience as we implemented a new mode of engagement, which we are extremely excited to get to share with you first, as cherished members of the Joffe community.

 

If you have any questions, don’t hesitate to reach out as always.

June 4th Updates

First, a quick reminder that we’ll be offering a low-stress, high-impact webinar on Monday morning at 9am PST. If you’re not already registered, please feel free to do so here. Next week, we’ll dig in to these topics and more: 

 

  • Recognizing the trauma and mental health crisis that is presented by Coronavirus 
  • How you can access information and knowledge in an all-in-one place going forward!
  • Managing your task-force/building an effective team and some structure to leverage
  • Establishing your pandemic coordinator, managing your "task force"

Mental Health Amid the COVID-19 Crisis

 

This coming Monday we will be joined by Dr. Baila Drucker, LCSW, founder and director of Project:Camp, an organization that empowers communities to foster resilience during and after disasters, for a brief discussion on considering the social-emotional resilience of your organization. Emerging data is indicating that Covid-19 has spawned a mental health crisis that may well outlast the virus itself, and Dr. B will talk about how you can protect yourselves, your employees and your students from developing toxic, traumatic stress.

 ___

 

Welcome to weekly check in number 13 (I think). As I have mentioned many times before, I am constantly in awe when observing the collaboration of the many brilliant minds working to create policies and protocol that will suit most if not all communities. We are heading into a new normal, and what seems to be a new world.

 

We are making huge strides towards the physical planning and restructuring of schools when that time comes, however, we have not spoken much about the mental impacts that quarantine has made. Coping with not being able to find joy in normal routines, and also grappling with the current climate of the country regarding social affairs can really take a toll on our collective mental health. 

 

I want to list some ways to cope and self care:

  • Take breaks to ease your mind and distract yourself when you start to worry.
  • Seek news only from reliable sources, and only in short stints
  • Maintain [safe and healthy] routines as much as possible
  • Maintain a to-do list and highlight the three most important tasks or projects
  • Give yourself patience and grace with these changes
  • Take your summer vacation. Disconnect. Unplug, Recharge. You deserve it. 

On a deeply personal note, like many of you, I've endured the protests and civil unrest of the last several days. As a black man, I feel the pain of an entire community and deeply value the work of so many -- of all colors -- who are working to cause change in our greater community. I am all too familiar with the cyclical nature of our collective attention span and I want to challenge each of us -- as we've done at Joffe -- to commit to an ongoing dialogue about these issues. To allow the momentum that's been created to diffuse itself in the weeks and months ahead would be a mistake. So, as we're doing with Coronavirus, I challenge you to tackle racism as a marathon and not a sprint. Don't burn out. Lives depend on our persistent efforts there, too. 

 

Together we will solve the hurdles in the “later”. As always I am but an email away. We are in this together, please reach out for assistance. I or my colleagues will get back to you as soon as possible.

June 1st Updates

Thank you for joining our call earlier today (or aiming to for those who weren't able!). We've learned that many of you are forwarding these notes to listservs and local schools - thank you! If someone forwarded this email to you, first we're grateful!, second, please feel free to register for our updates here

 

A few resources for each of you: 

Additionally, we shared a few key resources on the call today, those are offered below: 

We will continue to monitor updates and share resources as they become available. I have also been regularly tweeting updates and information, invite you to follow me on Twitter at @JoffeChris for more regular Q&A and updates!

 

Hope to see you again next Monday at 9am PST!

May 28th Updates

First, a quick reminder that we’ll be offering a low-stress, high-impact webinar on Monday morning at 9am PST. If you’re not already registered, please feel free to do so here. Next week, we’ll dig in to these topics and more: 

  • Parent communication/expectation setting ideas 
  • Cohorts, cohorts, everywhere 
    • Over summer (quarantining with a cohort) 
    • In Fall (keeping within our cohorts)
  • Deciphering between multiple sources of guidance 
  • Who should you assign as your Pandemic Coordinator?

Before we go any further: let's take a deep breath. 

 

This is I believe, weekly check-in number 12, and yet it feels like we're just getting started. I’d like to begin with a thank you to everyone who participates in the weekly webinars and the constant collaboration with amazing leaders from across the country. Although opening campuses countrywide is not a one size fits all solution, we have created a forum to piece together something that fits for each community. Every community has offered a piece of the puzzle, and soon enough we will have a complete picture that benefits each school in their own way. 

 

As I am sure everyone has noticed, many government issued restrictions are beginning to loosen globally. This also means that we are going to notice many school campuses opening for summer programs or for some type of schooling, in whatever way that may be. Dr. Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases urged, “localities to make decisions based on the dynamics of the COVID-19 outbreak in their area.” Inevitably this means that schools will reopen at different times and in different ways in the days, weeks and months ahead. 

 

We believe students will be on campus in some facet in the coming months, and returning to a new normal after completely altering their daily routine to incorporate online learning. I want to bring attention to an uncomfortable topic, that will present itself as we begin to return. We must work to make sure that our students, faculty and staff are not only physically safe on campus, but mentally and emotionally safe. We will have to pay special attention to challenges such as bullying, stereotyping, or harassment of those who were diagnosed with COVID-19, exposed to someone with COVID-19, or even those with identities which have been associated with COVID-19.

 

Below are some recommendations to engage in productive conversations in the classroom: 

  1. Set up a safe and respectful environment
  2. Avoid stigma or blame 
    1. “Do not refer to people with the disease as, “COVID-19 cases”, “victims”, “COVID-19 families”, or the, “diseased”. Instead they are, “people who have COVID-19”, “people who are being treated for COVID-19”, or “people who are recovering from COVID-19”, advises the WHO.
  3. Be age appropriate
  4. Think critically about media exposure
  5. Remain calm and reassuring 
    (Source: ibo.org)

Time for another breath.

 

As we wrap up another week, recognize that this journey we are all on has been a lot to take in and process. There is going to be burn out. Give yourself permission to acknowledge it and feel it. Check in with yourself. Check in with your team. Ask yourself what are three things you can do for yourself or for your team to give people a chance to refocus and rebound?

 

Together we will solve the hurdles in the “later”. As always I am but an email away. We are in this together, please reach out for assistance. I or my colleagues will get back to you as soon as possible. 

May 26th Updates

Thank you for joining our call earlier today (or aiming to for those who weren't able!). We've learned that many of you are forwarding these notes to listservs and local schools - thank you! If someone forwarded this email to you, first we're grateful!, second, please feel free to register for our updates here

 

A few resources for each of you: 

Additionally, we shared a few key resources on the call today, those are offered below: 

 

Something I did not share today, but I found as a great resource is collection of articles from McKinsey & Company. If you have a moment please check out; Leadership in a crisis: How leaders can support their organizations during the COVID-19 crisis and recovery.

 

We will continue to monitor updates and share resources as they become available. I have also been regularly tweeting updates and information, invite you to follow me on Twitter at @JoffeChris for more regular Q&A and updates!

 

Hope to see you again next Monday at 9am PST!

May 21st Updates

First, a quick reminder that we’ll be offering a low-stress, high-impact webinar on Tuesday morning at 9am PST. This change from our normal Monday is because of Memorial Day. If you’re not already registered, please feel free to do so here. Next week, we’ll dig in to these topics and more: 

 

  • What should schools be asking their legal teams? 
  • Developing and equipping a COVID-19 leader:
    • Senior Staff level (Incident Commander) 
    • Staff Level (Pandemic Coordinator)
  • Unpacking CDC Guidance released this week 
  • Finally: How our team is preparing to support you this summer & next year

 

Before you go any further: Take a deep breath! 

 

As we continue to make headway as a country and it seems as though things are changing every hour, if not every minute, I want to touch on some news that has been elevated and may well have been on your mind. News coverage of COVID-19 has been largely focused on its impact to at risk populations. Until recently, children were thought to be not significantly impacted. Within the last few weeks, clusters of children have come down with Pediatric Multisystem Inflammatory Syndrome (PMIS). This syndrome has a very similar resemblance to Kawasaki Disease. Symptoms that would indicate elevated concern include: 

 

Pediatric Multisystem Inflammatory Syndrome (PMIS):

  • Persistent high fever (101 degrees) for at least 4 days. 
  • Red eyes 
  • Rash 

Kawasaki Disease:

  • Persistent high fever (101 degrees) for at least 4 days 
  • Rash
  • Redness to eyes, lips, tongue
  • Swelling of the hands, feet, neck 

 

Many of the patients with PMIS or Kawasaki disease have been found to also carry the COVID-19 virus. Further, a significant number of patients were exposed to someone with COVID-19. I share this to express that we should monitor our students and children as schools begin to re-open and continue to take stringent measures to prevent the spread of the illness. 

 

I want to challenge you to continue to expand your awareness without elevating your own or your community's anxiety. As a community, I feel it’s worthwhile to reiterate: The sky is still up there. The future is still hopeful. We must take this, and the future challenges we’ll inevitably hit, in stride. 

 

While we don’t know everything, we do know that consistent hand washing, social distancing and disinfection of high touch surfaces is going to become part of our routine as we make our way into our new normal. With that in mind, I want to share with you the possibilities for disinfection systems and tools for your campus. 

 

Disinfection Sprayers for Your Campus

 

This list is not exhaustive, nor the only set of options for your campus. This is simply a snapshot of what could be used for your school, and some ideas you might use to cater to your campus needs. 

 

I want to snapshot what we are seeing worldwide with the rolling reopening of schools:

  • Shanghai: Thermal cameras are used on students, faculty and staff prior to entry onto campus. 
  • Northern Germany: Students self-administer COVID-19  tests twice a week. If they test positive, they stay home for two weeks; if they test negative, they wear a green sticker.
  • Taiwan: Has plastic partitions separating children within the classroom.
  • Demark: Has students come to school once a week for class outside, and online schooling for the remainder of the week. 
  • France: Students 11 and up are required to wear face masks when at school.

 

These are examples of what we may begin to see in schools near us. I encourage everyone to stay willing to flex with the ebbs and flows of what is being recommended everyday from the multiple resources that are leaning in from around the world. I encourage us to prioritize the concept of flexible predictability. 

 

Together we will solve the hurdles in the “later”. As always I am but an email away. We are in this together, please reach out for assistance. I or my colleagues will get back to you as soon as possible. 

 

May 18th Updates

Thank you for joining our call earlier today (or aiming to for those who weren't able!). We've learned that many of you are forwarding these notes to listservs and local schools - thank you! If someone forwarded this email to you, first we're grateful!, second, please feel free to register for our updates here

 

A few resources for each of you: 

Additionally, we shared a few key resources on the call today, those are offered below: 

We will continue to monitor updates and share resources as they become available. I have also been regularly tweeting updates and information, invite you to follow me on Twitter at @JoffeChris for more regular Q&A and updates!

 

Hope to see you again next week! As a reminder next week we will hold the webinar on Tuesday at 9am PST instead of Monday because of Memorial Day!

May 14th Updates

First, a quick reminder that we’ll be offering a low-stress, high-impact webinar on Monday morning at 9am PST. If you’re not already registered, please feel free to do so here. Next week, we’ll dig in to these topics and more: 

  • Reimagining what a school day could look like for students
  • What will the day to day look like for a nurse / health aid / health coordinator?
    • What kind of responsibilities to expect?
  • Previewing an exemplar contact tracing dashboard
  • Developing and equipping a COVID-19 leader

Before we jump into this week’s thoughts, please take a moment to help us think through busing for the new normal! Please fill out this survey so we can crowdsource what schools are thinking about their busing futures. We will share what trends we are seeing in an upcoming webinar. 

 

I’d like to start this note with yet another quote that has resonated with me in the past month. "Nothing in life is to be feared, it is only to be understood. Now is the time to understand more, so that we may fear less." We are now collaborating, learning, and gaining understanding from one another. To be frank, it is a scary time, there is a lot to fear, however, by joining forces and leaning into the unknown together, we will get through this, stronger and more prepared than ever before. 

As we approach opening campus doors again, I want to strategize and provide some expectations for the multiple hurdles and bumps in the road that we are going to need to overcome. There is not yet a cut and dry set of guidelines to follow for next year.  I want to address two key questions that have come up over the course of the past few weeks. 

  1. Are after school programs going to be available? 
  2. How can students access their lockers safely prior to summer break?

1) There is not a definitive answer as to whether after school programs are going to be safe for parents who need to return to work, or are deemed “essential workers.” However, if there is an absolute need for an afterschool program due to the necessity for after hour care, the CDC and WHO organization have given the following suggestions: 

  • Find larger venues
  • Stagger staff and student schedules
    • Parents sign up their children based upon their work schedule
  • Increased ventilation
    • Propping doors open 
  • Temperature checks prior to entry
  • Creating Cohorts of groups of children on the same staggered schedule, with the same staff member

2) Social distancing is the solution for essential activities. I want everyone to keep this in mind as we contemplate having students return to campus, if even for a brief period of time, such as retrieving belongings from lockers. 

Here are some helpful guidelines: 

  • Stagger pick up days and times:
    • 8 -10 am students with last names A-F 
    • 10:15-12:15pm students with last names G-L
    • 12:30-02:30pm students with last names M-P
    • 8-10 am students with last name Q-U 
    • 10:15-12:15pm students with last name V-Z
    • Tues: 
    • Thurs:
  • Have 1 entrance and 1 exit 
  • Have students temperature screened prior to entry into the school 
  • Students will go in to the school in X minute increments to ensure social distancing between students at different lockers 
  • While waiting for their entry time, students remain 6ft distance from one another 
  • Students required to wear masks
  • Students sanitize their hands prior to entry, and after 
  • All staff members wear masks 
  • Lockers must be sanitized after all students have retrieved their belongings 

I want to encourage everyone to continue collaborating and working together through these difficult times. We are in a large learning curve, and must continue adapting each and every day. Together we will solve the hurdles in the “later”. As always I am but an email away. We are in this together, please reach out for assistance. I or my colleagues will get back to you as soon as possible. 

Above all else, kudos for the progress you've made already in pivoting, reimagining and leading with your heart. 

May 11th Updates

Thank you for joining our call earlier today (or aiming to for those who weren't able!). We've learned that many of you are forwarding these notes to listservs and local schools - thank you! If someone forwarded this email to you, first we're grateful!, second, please feel free to register for our updates here

A few resources for each of you: 

Additionally, we shared a few key resources on the call today, those are offered below: 

We will continue to monitor updates and share resources as they become available. I have also been regularly tweeting updates and information, invite you to follow me on Twitter at @JoffeChris for more regular Q&A and updates!

Hope to see you again next Monday at 9am PST!

We've seen many quotes we liked and wanted to close with this one: “Resilience is accepting your new reality, even if it’s less good than the one you had before. You can fight it, you can do nothing but scream about what you’ve lost, or you can accept that and try to put together something that’s good.”
― Elizabeth Edwards 

May 7th Updates

First, a quick reminder that we’ll be offering a low-stress, high-impact webinar on Monday morning at 9am PST. If you’re not already registered, please feel free to do so here. Next week, we’ll dig in to these topics and more: 

  • High-level scenario planning for Fall return to school (this will now be a staple in these calls) 
  • Cleaning strategies & on campus PPE needs
  • Temperature Screening Strategies 
  • As always, we'll answer as many questions as we possibly can during our time together 

I wanted to start off this newsletter with a deep breath as we start every webinar. I am in continued awe over the amount of collaboration and the abundance of brilliant ideas that each and every one of you has shared over the course of the past 8 weeks. We are undoubtedly: Stronger. Together. 

As Safer at Home Orders are lifted in some cities and states, I want to remind everyone to check their local city and state ordinances frequently (at least once per week) to make sure you are up to date. You can find this information at State Mandates on COVID-19. Further, a simple google of [yourcity].gov/coronavirus will give you any updates regarding COVID-19 mandates in your city. Both of these websites are great sources of information, and will aid you in future planning. 

 

This week I want to delve into specifics towards re-opening, and maintaining a safe and healthy campus. Many of you have inquired regarding supplies that should be stocked for campus reopening. Below is a list of "long-lead-time" items that can be purchased for school. This was a collaborative effort, and a rough framework of some supplies that could be useful on campus. It is not intended to be inclusive of revised cleaning supplies or requirements that the CDC or other public agencies may release. Additionally, we've linked a "crowdsourcing" spreadsheet we're encouraging you to add to and take from as we work to find vendors who have these supplies available.  

The CDC shares that when searching for cleaning products for your school, look for a label that states that the product combats against SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes COVID-19. When looking for a product you can go to the website EPA List of Disinfectants Against SARS-CoV-2 and type in your products EPA Reg. No, and see if it is an effective product against COVID-19. Many of these products have caustic properties and must be used in a safe manner. 

The CDC Gives 6 Steps for Safe and Effective Disinfectant Use:

  1. Check that your product is EPA approved 
  2. Read the directions 
  3. Pre-clean the surface with soap and water 
  4. Follow the contact time 
  5. Wear gloves and wash your hands 
  6. Lock it up 

Remember normal routine cleaning with soap and water removes germs and dirt from surfaces. It lowers the risk of spreading COVID-19. Disinfectants kill germs on surfaces. By eliminating germs on a surface after cleaning, you can further lower the risk of spreading illness. If disinfectants on the EPA list are in short supply, alternative disinfectants can be used, for example, 1/3 cup of bleach added to 1 gallon of water, or 70% alcohol solutions.

Reopening Guidance for Cleaning and Disinfecting Public Spaces, Workplaces, Businesses, Schools, and Homes

As discussed in each webinar, we must instill predictability while promoting flexibility. With rolling reopening of schools, we must continue to prepare for more people on campus. Not only will we be cleaning and disinfecting more frequently and more stringently, but we must also evaluate the screening community members directly prior to on to campus. This is to ensure that no sick individuals are coming onto campus, and that we maintain a safe and healthy environment. Some possibilities for screening prior to entry are:

 

Screening Possibilities: 

      • Could be conducted by a 3rd party 
      • Could be conducted by security or other on campus staff
        • This means that a member of your team will conduct a temperature screening of each individual prior to campus entry 
        • CDC uses 100.4 Fahrenheit as the threshold for a temperature that is not permissible for return to work or return to school 
  • There are many options for thermal cameras: 
    • These cameras are intended for use inside a classroom or a specific room based at the entry of the campus 
    • Individuals will be screened through camera and either allowed to proceed into school or work based upon temperature dictated through the screening 

Seek Scan

FLIR A320 

OBSETECH

Below is a sheet of the cost and comparison of the multiple types of thermal cameras or infrared thermometers you can purchase for your campus.  

Thermometer Cost and Comparison

Together we will solve the hurdles in the “later”. As always I am but an email away. We are in this together, please reach out for assistance. I or my colleagues will get back to you as soon as possible. 

This week, look out for end of year burnout, but also look forward to that 

May 4th Updates

Thank you for joining our call earlier today (or aiming to for those who weren't able!). We've learned that many of you are forwarding these notes to listservs and local schools - thank you! If someone forwarded this email to you, first we're grateful!, second, please feel free to register for our updates here

A few resources for each of you: 

Additionally, we shared a few key resources on the call today, those are offered below: 

We will continue to monitor updates and share resources as they become available. I have also been regularly tweeting updates and information, invite you to follow me on Twitter at @JoffeChris for more regular Q&A and updates!

Hope to see you again next Monday at 9am PST!

In the meantime, here's to a healthy and safe week. As you lead this week, lookout for resilience. Hearing stories of your students strength, resilience and capacity continues to leave me awestruck. 

Apr. 30th Updates

First, a quick reminder that we’ll be offering a low-stress, high-impact webinar on Monday morning at 9am PST. If you’re not already registered, please feel free to do so here. Next week, we’ll dig in to these topics and more: 

  • High-level scenario planning for school/summer camp re-entry 
  • Some things to look out for/build plans for when it comes to our return 
  • As always, we'll answer as many questions as we possibly can during our time together 

I’d like to launch into this note by asking you to do what we do on every Monday webinar: take a deep breath and check in with yourself.

For many of us, we’re at around 40 days of staying Safer at Home. We’ve picked up new hobbies; cooking, painting, baking and maybe even some tie-dying. If there is something to say of this quarantine it's that our community has held together committed to keeping schools safe, healthy, and running. As a colleague mentioned over a webinar this past week, “We are not stuck at home, we are at home sticking together.” 

This week we're digging into some ideas around reopening that have been discussed with some brilliant minds. We touched on these topics during Monday’s Webinar, and will continue to elaborate and refine these in the coming weeks.

Through much discussion, most have come to the consensus that dividing the school population into smaller groups or, “cohorts,”  is the best way to tackle bringing schools together, and students back to campus. This of course will vary from school to school, however, the idea remains the same: ensure as much physical distancing as possible. 

Extended Schedule: Creating an extended schedule so that the day is longer than typical with fewer kids on campus at the same time to ensure social distancing.

  • Students divided into groups
    • The morning group
    • The afternoon group 
  • Students come to school at their designated group time 

Hybrid Learning: Those classes that benefit from in person learning are conducted on campus, and those that operate well via online continue online. 

  • STEM classes such as chemistry labs conducted on campus 
    • Students divided into smaller groups and remain in that group for the remainder of the class semester 
    • Teachers disinfect in between rotations of students 
    • Teachers maintain 6ft distance from students and students maintain 6ft distance from one another 
  • Classes such as Humanities courses (or others that fare well online)  remain online 

Staggered Schedules: Students only come to school on designated days; creating an X number day work week, where students only come to school on their assigned day. 

  • Creating, “Cohorts,” of students 
  • Cohorts based upon zip code or bus route 
    • Students in similar living area will be grouped together and only return to school on designated day
  • Entails dividing school population accordingly to size 

In each of these scenarios: 

  • Give some thought to how to manage siblings from the same home 
  • Contemplate the impact of staff on campus schedules 
  • Contemplate now the supplies and equipment you will need to keep school(s) safe. We'll continue to share what we think is on this list, but we encourage you to table-top the reopening of schools with your leadership team to discover those hidden needs. 

The above are brief snapshots of what could be instituted at your school. They are not by any means the only options and we, like you, will continue to listen, learn and iterate. I encourage everyone to think about the best fit for their school. I believe that the three words which characterize the months ahead are adaptability, agency, and communication. 

Some food for thought from this week’s webinar; in what ways can we not only support our students, but support our faculty and staff? As much as our focus is on students and returning them to some sort of normalcy we must also consider that our faculty and staff are in need of support as well. Without them and their incredible efforts to keep schools running smoothly, we would not be able to have these amazing productive conversations and discussions. Teachers in many ways are on the front lines as well, we were asked to start with some ideas as to how we can best support them during this transition and time. I couldn’t think of a better group to lean in for. 

I want to link a collaborative document down below and ask that we brainstorm ideas on how to best support our teachers and resist burnout and other challenges:

How to Support Our Teachers

Together we will solve the hurdles in the “later”. As always I am but an email away. We are in this together, please don't hesitate to reach out for support. I or my colleagues will get back to you as soon as possible. 

Apr. 27th Updates

Thank you for joining our call earlier today (or aiming to for those who weren't able!). We've learned that many of you are forwarding these notes to listservs and local schools - thank you! If someone forwarded this email to you, first we're grateful!, second, please feel free to register for our updates here

A few resources for each of you: 

Additionally, we shared a few key resources on the call today, those are offered below: 

We will continue to monitor updates and share resources as they become available. I have also been regularly tweeting updates and information, invite you to follow me on Twitter at @JoffeChris for more regular Q&A and updates!

Hope to see you again next Monday at 9am PST!

In the meantime, here's to a healthy and safe week. As you lead this week, lookout for resilience. Hearing stories of your students strength, resilience and capacity continues to leave me awestruck. 

Apr. 23rd Updates

First, a quick reminder that we’ll be offering a low-stress, high-impact webinar on Monday morning at 9am PST. If you’re not already registered, please feel free to do so here. Next week, we’ll dig in to these topics and more:

  • High-level scenario planning for school/summer camp re-entry 
  • Reflections from participating in a few leadership team meetings at schools in different parts of the country
  • Are you building the best online program in the world? If so, what can you share with others? What should we know?
  • As always, we'll answer as many questions as we possibly can during our time together 

I’d like to launch into this note by asking you to do what we do on every Monday webinar: take a deep breath and check in with yourself. It is surreal to think that we have sheltered ourselves in place for somewhere around 35 days now; but our community of schools are holding strong and doing our part. I applaud each and every one of you for that.  

 

This week we’re aiming to share some broad scenarios around how others around the world have re-entered school. This is NOT to say that the United States, or any of our States will re-open in this way, but instead to offer some perspective as inevitably some of these strategies will indeed be a part of our shared work soon. 

Denmark

Denmark has implemented its first phase of entry back to school with social distancing in mind. There are regulations that are being strictly enforced in order to ensure that limiting the spread of Coronavirus is still at the forefront of everyone's mind:

  • Students must be split into smaller classes
  • Students must be able to wash their hands immediately after arriving, and at least every two hours thereafter
  • Schools must clean contact surfaces (such as sinks, toilets, doorknobs, light switches, etc.) at least twice per day
  • Schools are keeping kids outside as much as possible
    • Splitting schoolyards into sections with tape
    • Teachers are tasked with ensuring students are not playing in groups of more than five while outside
  • Schools are printing maps that mark entrance and exit routes and ensuring children remain outside as much as possible 
  • Some articles for a deeper dive: 

New South Wales

New South Wales schools plan to allow students to return to school 1 day a week starting mid May. They are retaining only a quarter of the student population on campus on a given day. There are highly urging grades 11 and 12 to return to school, as these are pivotal academic years for college. With that in mind, New South Wales schools state, “If parents don’t feel comfortable sending their kids to school, for whatever reason, they will not be obligated to do so.”

An article for a deeper dive: NSW students to return to school one day a week from mid-May

Around The World: 

Many schools have considered thoughts of temperature screening of all employees and students prior to entering the school. This may be a hard task to implement, and would take a considerable amount of time each school day. It may be in some of our cards and we'll be here to support you if it is. 

I want to plant a seed into everyone's mind to start thinking about ways to celebrate the many activities that seniors were not able to partake in this school year. I am going to link a google doc. down below where everyone can share ideas of ways we can recognize the senior class, and make their last year of high school or college as special as possible. Take an idea, give an idea - we’re in this together!

Ideas to Celebrate Seniors

For Your School

For now, I’m encouraging you to continue to stay grounded in the “Now” and the “Next”. Our States, Counties and Cities will release guidance for our schools to reopen. When they do, we’ll be here to support you as you work to adhere to it. In the meantime, consider the ideas above and use them as scenarios in your leadership team dialogues. We know we won’t come back exactly the same way as other countries have, but pieces from each country’s re-entry will likely be in our shared future. 

For now, we will continue to strategize together and learn from other countries and other schools. I am thankful to each and every one of you for the thoughts and ideas you have shared. Together we will solve the hurdles in the “later”. As always I am but an email away. We are in this together, please reach out for assistance. I or my colleagues will get back to you as soon as possible. 

I wish you health this coming week and resilience too! 

In strength,

Chris Joffe 

Twitter: @JoffeChris

P.S. I know you're already short on time. If you can spare 3 minutes, I'd so appreciate your feedback on this survey about our work and how we'll evolve it next year. Dozens of you have already completed this - THANK YOU! I'm hopeful to get into the hundreds. 

Apr. 20th Updates

Thank you for joining our call earlier today (or aiming to for those who weren't able!). 

A few resources for each of you: 

Re-share by request: This document articulates so many of the questions we merely scratched the surface on today and last week. First and foremost, thank you, Mike! Please feel free to "Make a Copy" of this doc to design a conversation for your own school. 

We will continue to monitor updates and share resources as they become available. I have also been regularly tweeting updates and information, invite you to follow me on Twitter at @JoffeChris for more regular Q&A and updates!

Hope to see you again next Monday at 9am PST!

In the meantime, here's to a healthy and safe week. As you lead this week, lookout for strength, be ready for angst and embrace each with empathy, care and compassion. 

Apr. 16th Updates

First, a quick reminder that we’ll be offering a low-stress, high-impact webinar on Monday morning at 9am PST. If you’re not already registered, please feel free to do so here. Next week, we’ll dig in to these topics and more: 

  • Continued scenario planning for summer and school re-entry 
  • Scenario planning for faculty/staff in-service (both before camp and before school) 
  • A few specifics around the increases in expectations for Essential Workers 
  • As always, we'll answer as many questions as we possibly can during our time together 

This week we reflect and recharge with a Mr. Rogers quote that really resonated with me. “When I was a boy and I would see scary things in the news, my mother would say to me, 'Look for the helpers. You will always find people who are helping.'” Indeed, as we look around today, we are seeing people -- almost everywhere -- helping. 

I want to remind everyone that in so many ways by staying home and self-isolating we, too, are helping. It’s not an easy task, but every effort helps. Further, I want to touch on something that we talked about in our earlier newsletters; as Mr. Rogers stated, how to help. As we head further into the shelter in place orders, which for so many of us have been extended to mid-May, I want to reiterate just some of the many ways you can make an impact from your dining room table: 

Check on Your Neighbors: A simple text or call to those across the street, can make all the difference. Ask them what they need? It could be a simple request of a stick of butter for the muffins they’re baking that morning. If you have it, leave it outside their front door, limiting any direct contact. 

Feed the Children: Works with thousands of partner agencies across the country including food pantries, shelters, soup kitchens and churches. You can make a cash donation here. If you want to donate food or hygiene items call 1-800-627-4556.

Take care of yourself: I mentioned this on Monday's call, but want to reiterate a few pieces of this critically important puzzle. As leaders, we're pretty good about talking about self-care. We're less good about going forward with it. Do it. This coming week marks the 5th week for many of us in some form of self-isolation. This is absolutely not a sprint any longer, it's a marathon. It's critically important that we find ways to care for ourselves to ensure we can be there for our community today, tomorrow and the next day. 

Take care of your community: For many of us, it's time to expand the dialogue about self-care. Gratitude is a great way to start. Share gratitude for teachers, administrators, parents, even children who are doing something great. Beyond that, celebrate self-care. Hear of someone taking a break? Tell them how it inspired you, too, to recharge. Again, we're in this for the long haul. The more we can practice self-care and sustainable leadership and connection, the more we'll be able to support one another. 

What to Do If You Are Sick:

The CDC Shares:

  • Stay home, and rest and recuperate
  • Call your healthcare provider, prior to leaving to the hospital 
    • Trouble breathing
    • Persistent pain or pressure in the chest
    • New confusion or inability to arouse
    • Bluish lips or face
    • Most individuals diagnosed witH COVID-19 have mild symptoms and can recover at home
    • Do not leave your home unless more severe symptoms begin such as:
  • Avoid public transportation 
  • Drink plenty of fluids
  • Try as much as possible to stay away from others in your home
    • Stay in one particular room 
  • Use your own restroom 
  • Monitor Symptoms:
    • Check your temperature 

Folks with COVID-19 who have stayed home (home isolated) can stop home isolation under the following conditions:

  • You have had no fever for at least 72 hours (that is three full days of no fever without the use of medicine that reduces fevers)
  • Other symptoms have improved (for example, when your cough or shortness of breath have improved)
  • And at least 7 days have passed since your symptoms first appeared

As always I am but an email away. We are all in this together, please reach out for support. I or my colleagues will get back to you as soon as possible. For quick responses and to stay up to date, follow me on Twitter: @JoffeChris or ask questions through our form.

Apr. 13th Updates

Thank you for joining our call earlier today (or aiming to for those who weren't able!). 

 

A few resources for each of you: 

I got a few emails with the request for the screening/sampling tool, so I want to reiterate that tool. This is a sample/starting point (thank you, Debbie!) that you may consider. Note: There are two tabs, second one with instructions. 

 

Additionally, a few of you shared various links to rules and expectations around masks and temperature screenings. A few core thoughts for the current moment: 

  • If you're planning to do anything that's different than your norm, you should always check in with your own counsel. 
  • OSHA has changed the rules and given employers the authority to require masks 
  • If you don't have great counsel already, we have great respect for many of the legal firms representing schools on employment and other matters and would be happy to write a warm introduction. As a peer and fellow employer, I can't underscore enough the value of great lawyers.

A few have shared resources around the idea of reopening. Most notably, this document articulates so many of the questions we merely scratched the surface on today. First and foremost, thank you, Mike! Please feel free to "Make a Copy" of this doc to design a conversation for your own school. 

 

Finally, someone pointed out that in Los Angeles, there is now a requirement for organizations that are 'open' to post their social distancing and modified work experience requirements in a public venue. LA's checklist may be found here. Thank you, Janet! That said, wherever you might be, it's a good idea to frequently review your Mayor's "Stay at Home" orders to ensure that you're staying compliant with updates like these. As always, if you're struggling to find those, please don't hesitate to let us know. (We'll try to post a clear list of these in the weeks ahead). 

 

We will continue to monitor updates and share resources as they become available. I have also been regularly tweeting updates and information, invite you to follow me on Twitter at @JoffeChris for more regular Q&A and updates!

 

Hope to see you again next Monday at 9am PST!

 

In the meantime, here's to a healthy and safe week. As you lead this week, lookout for unexpected innovation within your student community! 

Apr. 10th Updates

First, a quick reminder that we’ll be offering a low-stress, high-impact webinar on Monday morning at 9am PST. If you’re not already registered, please feel free to do so here. Next week, we’ll dig in to these topics and more: 

  • Our expectations/what you can anticipate this week 
  • Changes in mask requirements 
  • Scenario planning for summer and school re-entry 
  • One key challenge: people are getting tired 
  • As always, we'll answer as many questions as we possibly can during our time together 

I want to start this week with a friendly video that will hopefully brighten your day as it did mine. Take a look to put a smile on your face. We'll Get Through It :)

A quick reminder of the social distancing expectations in place: 

  • Wash your hands regularly for 30 seconds, with soap and water
  • Use hand sanitizer avidly when outside of the house and shopping for essentials 
  • Do not touch your eyes, nose, or mouth with your hands
  • Cover your mouth and nose with a tissue or a flexed elbow when you cough or sneeze 
  • Stay home to self-isolate as much as possible 
  • Repeat

While at home I encourage everyone to try something a little different this week. Cooking has always been an outlet of the co-author of this note, Amanda, and a way to not only express creativity, but a way to destress as well. In your spare time I challenge everyone to share a recipe of their liking to this page and share from what region you are from:

The page, Cooking at Home in the Time of Coronavirus takes pride in helping the at home cook, stir up something special with what is hidden in the pantry. Cooking with 5 ingredients or less, recipes that freeze well, and meal prepping for the week are essential during the current time. 

Note: You may have missed the subtle emphasis on self-care in the "cooking" section above. Let's be very clear, this is an uncomfortably exhausting time for us. Whatever you choose to do - cook, exercise, read a book, meditate, pray - choose to do something for you. 

Back to business:

As of April 3rd, the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, recommended that we all wear "non-medical, cloth masks" to help stifle the spread of the Coronavirus. The cloth mask should be worn in places where there is a gathering of people from outside our homes (read: the market, etc.). A few notes: 

  •  Wearing a mask does not supersede social distancing expectations, it supports those efforts
  • Check your City/State's #Coronavirus website for more information including specific requirements that may exist for you
  • If you're sending essential people to campus, they should now be wearing masks while on campus

 The CDC has given guidance on how you should wear your face cloth coverings. Cloth face coverings should:

  • Fit snugly but comfortably against the side of the face
  • Be secured with ties or ear loops
  • Include multiple layers of fabric
  • Allow for breathing without restriction
  • Be able to be laundered and machine dried without damage or change to shape

Mask Etiquette:

  • Before putting on a mask, clean hands with alcohol-based hand rub or soap and water
  • Cover your mouth and nose with a mask and make sure there are no gaps between your face and the mask
  • Avoid touching the mask while using it; if you do, clean your hands with alcohol-based hand sanitizer or soap and water
  • To remove the mask: remove it from behind (do not touch the front of mask)
  • Don’t pull the mask down to eat a snack, then pull it back up 
  • Keep the mask on until you’re back at home 
  • Wash reusable face masks every time you use one
    • Do not put the mask in your purse and then put it back on your face. 
  • Throw away once visible dirt or damage is on the mask

I hope you have a safe, healthy, restorative weekend. I look forward to seeing many of you on Monday. In the meantime, please don’t hesitate to ask questions on my Twitter: @JoffeChris, or through our form

 

Apr. 6th Updates

Thank you for joining our call earlier this week (or aiming to for those who weren't able!). Apologies for the delay in this email!

A few resources for each of you: 

The question came up yesterday about what tools we might be able to use to screen essential personnel who are coming to campus. This is a sample/starting point (thank you, Debbie!) that you may consider. Note: There are two tabs, second one with instructions. 

We will continue to monitor updates and share resources as they become available. I have also been regularly tweeting updates and information, invite you to follow me on Twitter at @JoffeChris for more regular Q&A and updates!

Hope to see you again next Monday at 9am PST!

In the meantime, here's to a healthy and safe week. As you lead this week, lookout for joy within your community! 

Apr. 2nd Updates

First, a quick reminder that we’ll be offering a low-stress, high-impact webinar on Monday morning at 9am PST. If you’re not already registered, please feel free to do so here. On Monday, we’ll dig in to these topics and more: 

  • Staggered staffing for food distribution and critical infrastructure (business office, etc.) 
  • Graduation/moving up ceremonies 
  • Summer school, summer camp, summer program 
  • Some tough stuff: managing the impacts of severe illness or loss of a community member due to Coronavirus 
  • As always, we’ll answer as many questions as humanly possible during that time together

While you’re worrying about everyone else in your community, I want to remind you that I’m thinking about you. One thing we know we have control over at this moment is our own well being. Take a moment to decompress and check in with yourself.  We can only take things week by week and control the days ahead. Let’s use this weekend to recharge and refuel! 

With the Safer at Home Orders in place through April, new questions have popped in. Below are some of the most common questions we’re fielding: 

  • Is It Safe to Go to the Grocery Store Amid Coronavirus?
    • The best option is to order online. Ordering online and using a delivery service radically limits your contact and reduces your chances of exposure to Covid-19. However, if you must go into the market, here are some best practices to ensure your safety. 
    • Wipe down high touch surfaces, i.e your cart or basket 
    • Bring hand sanitizer to the market, and use it immediately before entering your car
    • Only visit the market once a week, or once every couple of weeks 
    • Many people wonder if they should wipe down their produce prior to using them. The CDC recommends not using essential disinfectants until absolutely necessary. Use these disinfectants for surfaces such as your counters after you place your groceries on them. Using disinfectants such as bleach on your produce is not safe. Make sure to wash your fruits and vegetables as you normally would. 
  • How to Practice Social Distancing on Public Transit:
    • Although we must practice social distancing and remain at home, many do not have this option and the use of public transit is a necessity. As of March 23rd, all those who need to use public transit must enter and exit through the rear doors of the bus. Metro will be installing sanitation stations at major transit stops where riders can wash their hands. Washing your hands is still the best safe-guard against the CoronaVirus, and granting the ability to do so often, will only help to stifle the spread. 
  • Plans for School Closure
    • As of Tuesday March 31st it has been reported that California schools will stay closed for the rest of the year in order to prevent the spread of the virus, says the state superintendent. I've shared with many of you that we expect A few thoughts that I hope will be helpful in your own planning around this: 
    • First, this is true for public schools. As a private school, you’re not necessarily required to comply with this expectation. As a charter, you may or may not be required to follow suit. 
    • Many are opting to take a different course of action - announce closure until May X. If you’re among those schools, here’s a blurb that you may find helpful to convey awareness, but distinct choice: 
      • We're making the decision to remain closed until May 1. Many of you may have seen the [governor's statement] that public schools may -- or will -- not return this year. It's possible we'll be in the same position. We're mindful that we can not fully predict what will come to pass over the weeks ahead. We will not reopen school until it is safe to do so. We, like you, are anxiously awaiting the return of our student's laughter and joy to our halls. We hope that we are able to reach that point in May and we are committed to keeping you informed along the way. 
    • Others are choosing to follow suit and that’s okay, too!
      • Whatever you choose, my push would be to make the decision criteria clear: 
        • What is best for our students’ safety?
        • What is best for our faculty and staff’s safety? 
        • What is best for our students’ academic and social and emotional development? 

Mar. 30th Updates

Thank you for joining our call earlier today (or aiming to for those who weren't able!). A few resources for each of you: 

As an action item, we'd encourage you to prepare for a direct exposure within your community. To help you with this process, we've included a template letter.

Some communities are finding themselves struggling to stay focused on the distancing and new protocol. Thank you, Barbara, for sharing this video from a physician in New York who's sharing a bit about the experience he's had and doing so in an educational, authentic way. Here's the link! 

We will continue to monitor updates and share resources as they become available. I have also been regularly tweeting updates and information, invite you to follow me on Twitter at @JoffeChris for more regular Q&A and updates!

Hope to see you again next Monday at 9am PST!

In the meantime, here's to a healthy and safe week. As you lead this week, lookout for resilience within your community! It's happening, so might as well get to appreciate it!  

Mar. 26th Updates

First, a quick reminder that we’ll be offering a low-stress, high-impact webinar on Monday morning at 9am PST. If you’re not already registered, please feel free to do so here.

 

As we lean into new routines and balance what feels like a new way of life, I implore everyone to take a moment to self reflect and prioritize their own wellness. As I shared in our last note, responding to Coronavirus is a marathon, not a sprint. Take a moment to disconnect; turn off the phones, turn off the computer, take a moment. 

 

Leaning into next week, I’m mindful that we can begin to accurately project what the next 2 weeks will look like. From now through the end of the week of the 6th, it’s conceivable that we’ll remain in a state of ‘Social Distancing’, whatever that might look like for each of our respective communities (Safer at Home, Safer Inside, Stay Home, Quarantine, etc.). It’s tempting to look beyond that horizon and some may make the choice to. I’d encourage each of us to stay focused on what we can see clearly for the time being. 

 

As we work to conduct business as usual (albeit in our slippers, and our new office at the dining room table), I am inspired by the creativity and innovation that our communities are pioneering. To add to the list of efforts that have been implemented already, I’d like to share a couple of new ones that have resonated with me and ones where you can step in as well.

 
Join the C19 Help Squad

    • The C19 Help squad is providing immediate financial assistance to people around the U.S. By joining this team, you will be connected to a family who is unable to gain access to food or supplies. You have the option of helping locally such as mowing someone’s lawn, buying groceries, or washing someone’s car. Or you can help remotely by donating a gas card, paying for childcare, or assisting with rent or bills. 
  • America, Let's Do Lunch
    • Meals on Wheels America, which has more that 2 million volunteers across the country is looking for volunteers for communities in the most urgent need. Meals on Wheels America caters to those who are 60 or older, who are disabled, homebound, and who have no one available to aid with meal preparation.
  • Meditation 101: Techniques, Benefits, and a Beginner’s How-to
    • On a personal note, as I stated earlier as much as we want to help others, we must also help ourselves. I challenge all of you to take a moment today to meditate. Meditation does not always come easily. The above, is a blog to hopefully guide you through the process of mediation and the many benefits of doing so.
  • Keep Washing! 
    • With school closures in place and remote learning in effect we should continue to practice proper hygiene and sanitation techniques. Even while at home with families, our students can/should be reminded to hand wash hands and sanitize commonly used items and areas daily. Making these techniques a habit will not only help during these times but will build a mindset of health and wellness for years to come. 
  • Get Up! Stand Up!
    • Quarantine should not be a reason to lose our fitness motivation! The World Health Organization has provided  information and home-based exercises to keep happy and healthy during this time. 

I hope you have a safe, healthy, restorative weekend. I look forward to seeing many of you on Monday. In the meantime, please don’t hesitate to ask questions on my Twitter: @JoffeChris, or through our form. 

Mar. 22nd Updates

A few resources for each of you: 

As an action item, we'd encourage you to proactively prepare for a direct exposure or secondary exposure to Coronavirus within your community. To help you with this process, we've included a template letter to notify your community of an exposure. We'd encourage you to wordsmith that in the next day or two (again, likely proactively at this time). 

 

Additionally, we'd encourage you to proactively contemplate a change in leadership. Given the volume of people impacted, it's a reasonable assumption that a leader will become sick (Coronavirus or otherwise). Should that occur, are you equipped to manage through as a team and community? If not, build out 2 - 3 alternate leaders and build capacity within them. 

 

We will continue to monitor updates and share resources as they become available. I have also been regularly tweeting updates and information, invite you to follow me on Twitter at @JoffeChris for more regular Q&A and updates!

 

Hope to see you again next Monday at 9am PST!

 

In the meantime, here's to a healthy and safe week. As you lead this week, lookout for people who may need an extra dose of empathy! 

Mar. 20th Updates

First, a quick reminder that we’ll be offering a low-stress, high-impact webinar on Monday morning at 9am PST. If you’re not already registered, please feel free to do so here. We've transitioned to this format as we're acknowledging the response to Coronavirus is a marathon, not a sprint. To that end, I'd encourage you to contemplate how you're holding up right now. Can you adjust your pace to ensure you have the endurance you'll need in the weeks ahead?

 

Over the past couple of weeks I have been continually awed by the creativity, generosity, patience, and hard work of people across all sectors as we develop new routines and adjust to new ways of connecting in the world. In particular, I am reminded daily of the resilience of our school communities. Because of the vital role that schools play in families’ lives, we have seen the intersection of community services joining together in new ways.

 

Food banks are working with school districts to think about creative ways to provide nutritious meals to students. Cox, Comcast, and Spectrum (among others) have taken initiatives to boost internet speeds and provide low-cost and in some cases free access options to support at-home learning and working. Most inspiring to me is the work that all of you have been doing and continue to do every day: implementing distance learning plans, supporting your employees, building redundancy into business systems, and maintaining that all-important line of communication and connection with your families. 

 

This last point is often the most important thing that we can do as school leaders; please remember that by staying in regular communication with your families you are extending an invaluable service. I have seen hundreds of excellent school communications this week, and wanted to share two examples, one from an East Coast school and one from a West Coast school. My hope is that these inspire you and support you as you draft future communications to your families.

 

Across the nation, all of us now face either the reality or the possibility of an extended period of school closure. To that end, I’d like to share some new resources we’ve found that could be of value to you and your communities:

  • Distance learning. There are an increasing number of excellent forums for idea-sharing when it comes to distance learning. Google now has a great hub built targeting schools affected by COVID-19. Another community hub for information sharing can be found at Share My Lesson. There is also an excellent centralized resource page specifically dedicated to Educating Students with Disabilities.
  • Parents at home. For parents, Common Sense Media has an excellent collection of resources, tools, and recommendations. Additionally, the National Association of School Psychologists has published a great Parent Resource to guide family discussion about the Coronavirus.
  • Resource Library. We have assembled these and many other resources you may find helpful in our new Resource Library addressing specific topics such as Talking to Kids About the Coronavirus, Wellness, Maps, and more.
  • Frequently Asked Questions. We have been updating our FAQ page as we receive new queries and field shifting concerns. Our goal is to continue to add to this page weekly.

Finally, I want to share with you a quote I have been thinking about a lot this week: “Everything we do before a pandemic will seem alarmist. Everything we do after will seem inadequate.” (Michael Leavitt, Former Health & Human Services Secretary)

 

As you finish up this difficult week and gear up for each new one, please remember that what you are doing is adequate. It may never feel like enough, but it is invaluable. Whatever it is you can do, it helps. Take care of yourself, take care of each other, and take a deep breath.

 

We are here as a continued resource for you as we work through these challenges together, and we look forward to hearing more about all of your victories (big and small).

Mar. 13th Updates

First a quick reminder that our team will be holding a weekly update call, free for all schools to join, starting this Monday, March 16 at 9:00AM PST. You can register to get the link here.

Next, as a follow-up to yesterday’s communication about preparing for possible pandemic-related school closure, I’m writing another quick note today in order to pass along an additional resource released last night by the CDC. 

In case it’s valuable in your decision-making process, the CDC has published these Considerations for School Closure. This document outlines a decision tree on Page 2, and reviews some considerations for and against school closure on Pages 3-7.

Additionally, a number of folks have shared with us some great articles that could be helpful to share with parents as they also prepare for the possibility (or now, reality for many) of their students being home for an extended period.

We will continue to monitor updates and share valuable resources such as this as they become available. I have also been regularly tweeting updates and information, and you are welcome to follow me on Twitter at @JoffeChris.

Mar. 12th Updates

 

This email is intended to provide school communities with resources, support, and updated information related to coronavirus (COVID-19). Today’s communication is focused primarily on the topic of school closure, as this has been a concern at top of mind for schools across the nation this week. While this is a difficult and stressful time for all of us, we want to remind you that your community is capable and resilient. Together, we will come through this challenge.

 

As many of you know, the World Health Organization (WHO) officially declared a coronavirus pandemic as of Wednesday, March 11. To be clear, according to the Director-General of the WHO, this designation “does not change WHO’s assessment of the threat of the virus.” Rather, it is a continued reminder to governments and organizations around the world that mitigating and containing COVID-19 requires urgent and aggressive action. 

 

In light of that, health officials are increasingly emphasizing ‘social distancing’, the practice of limiting our close-range engagement with others (particularly in larger groups). Here are some ideas for ways to encourage social distancing within the framework of traditional education (from Page 7 of the CDC’s School Flu Toolkit K-12, a great resource):

 

  • Rotating teachers between classrooms while keeping the same group of students in one classroom
  • Canceling select classes that bring students together from multiple classrooms
  • Holding classes outdoors
  • Postponing class trips
  • Discouraging use of school buses and public transit
  • Dividing classes into smaller groups
  • Moving desks farther apart
  • Moving classes to larger spaces to allow more space between students

 

Some schools around the nation are choosing to close as a precaution or are being requested to close by their local or state department of health. We want to provide you with some additional considerations relevant to questions around school closures and what that process should look like. As a reminder, in lieu of guidance from local, state, or federal authority, this decision rests with your leadership team. Here are some guiding questions for your team as you contemplate the need for closure:

 

 

As you think about what level of response is required, we recommend clearly outlining what each level of response would look like and what would trigger each level. The following are some examples of levels of response schools have already taken or are contemplating:

 

  • School is open for all classes and events
  • School is open for classes
    • Events and trips canceled or postponed
    • Social distancing measures taken
  • School is closed to students only
    • Distance learning plan may be implemented, if possible
    • Faculty and staff are working on-site
    • Consider gathering the community virtually through Zoom or other platforms to maintain a sense of connectedness
  • School is closed to students and teaching staff
    • Distance learning plan implemented, if possible
    • Only administrative / facilities staff on site
    • Consider virtual community gathering
  • School closed to all students, faculty and staff 
    • Distance learning plan implemented, if possible
    • Consider virtual community gathering

 

At each of these levels, ask yourself the following questions:

  • Who is involved in the decision?
  • What are employee expectations re: distance learning, remote work, or reporting to campus?
  • How will this be communicated?
  • For additional guiding questions about social distancing and closure, see this document.

 

As ever, be sure to keep your families and staff apprised about developments and decisions. Below are a few key components that we recommend you include in any message you send to families informing them that school will be closed for a period of time. 

  • Exact level of response your school is implementing
    • What will be the impact on families and what is your request to them?
    • Does your school have a distance learning plan? What are the logistics required for this to be implemented?
  • Why this decision was made
    • Who was involved in the decision and what were the contributing factors?
  • Timeline
    • What is the anticipated timeline of the school closure?
    • When can families expect their next update?
  • Campus plans regarding cleaning, sanitizing, or other steps being taken to prepare for school reopening
  • Contact information for questions or concerns
  • Communication
    • Consider daily communication leading up to or during a closure for parents, staff, faculty, and other key audiences

 

We also would like to share some direct resources that schools can utilize:

  • A contact directory with phone numbers and email addresses for local departments of health.
  • Our team will be holding a weekly update call, free for all schools to join, starting this Monday, March 16 at 9:00AM PST. You can register to get the link here
  • For schools in California - we have created a collaborative document where you can see the closure status of schools around the state, as well as strategies they are utilizing for remote learning. Northern California is here. Southern California can be found here. 
  • For non-California schools - This map and directory from Education Weekly has collected information on school closures around the country.

Mar. 4th Updates

We want to provide schools with a status update and some new resources related to coronavirus planning as of this Wednesday morning, March 4. 

While the total number of confirmed coronavirus cases in the U.S. remains relatively small, that number is likely to grow as additional testing is performed and more individuals seek care.

As you may be aware, on Tuesday, the World Health Organization informed the public that the coronavirus does not appear to be easily spread by people who are not experiencing symptoms themselves. This is good news, as it means there is greater likelihood of containing the virus. This also means that the best strategies for prevention and mitigation at this point remain the ones already discussed at length, such as thorough hand washing and staying home when sick.  

We know many schools are focused on these prevention steps, but are also thinking about the steps that need to be taken to mitigate the impact of coronavirus, should it affect the local community. If you have not already, we recommend sharing a message with your families as a first step, updating them on how you are dealing with things like campus cleaning, travel planning, school closures, and talking to students about coronavirus. We’ve provided a fresh letter template to serve as a starting place here.

Additionally, as you think about the items you need to consider related to a potential school closure, we have developed a list of key considerations and questions that may be a helpful guide in this process. It includes questions across a variety of topics such as remote learning, employee policies, childcare, business continuity, and others that will ensure you are prepared for any eventuality.  

Finally, I want to share a few resources that may be helpful as you continue to navigate this situation:

  • Joffe’s “Frequently Asked Questions” page, where we’ve collected responses to some of the most pressing coronavirus-related challenges facing schools.
  • If your question is not answered there, please submit it to us here. The FAQ page is being regularly updated as new questions come in. 
  • This article has some great tips for how to talk about the coronavirus with kids.
  • The National Association of Independent Schools (NAIS) has put together some great resources and guidance as well. See their website dedicated to the coronavirus here.

Continue to stay up to date on the most recent developments, from your local department of health as well as the CDC.

Feb. 27th Updates

As a follow up to our initial communication on Tuesday evening, this email is intended to provide some additional information that may be helpful as your school is considering next steps related to the coronavirus (COVID-19).

As we shared initially, the United States is not currently facing a coronavirus pandemic. However, as you are aware, the situation continues to evolve, and we want to empower schools to plan for increased concern in their communities. 

In an attempt to create a space for school staff and leadership to ask questions that are on their minds, our team will be posting a list of Frequently Asked Questions to our website tomorrow, outlining questions we have been hearing over the past few days related to safety and emergency preparedness planning in the context of coronavirus. We will offer some guidance and suggestions for you to consider as you’re working on a plan for your school. We will be updating and adding to this FAQ regularly as the situation evolves in the coming days and weeks. If there are specific questions you would like to see addressed, please share them with us by filling out this Google Form. 

Additionally, for schools with staff members currently attending the National Association of Independent Schools conference in Philadelphia, we will be addressing coronavirus planning at the conference tomorrow morning as part of a session entitled “Active Assailant Risk Management - Strategies for Managing Your School’s Risk”. In partnership with Ronald Wanglin from Bolton & Company, we’ll discuss ways schools can protect themselves from both of these threats. The session is taking place at 8:00AM in Room 120A, and we welcome anyone interested in joining the discussion.

Finally, we wanted to share this list of relevant resources that may be helpful as you are thinking about next steps at your school: 

  • A directory with listings for local departments of health: We recommend using this to stay in frequent contact with your local health department about new developments. 
  • The World Health Organization’s interactive map: This shows reported cases of coronavirus around the globe.
  • The CDC’s 2017 guidelines on best practices for pandemic flus: These recommendations for individuals, businesses, and schools are relevant to the coronavirus situation.

 

Feb. 25th Updates
 
 

You are likely aware that earlier this week the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) gave a press conference updating the American public on the current status of the coronavirus (COVID-19). Among the messages the CDC shared was a warning that the coronavirus is extremely likely to spread in communities across the U.S. and that individuals, schools, and businesses should be taking steps to not only prevent, but also prepare for the spread of the virus.

We recognize that this message has created widespread concern across schools. The idea of a widespread virus is understandably a scary one for every school, and every community. We wanted to take this opportunity to share some information that may be helpful as you consider your own next steps.

First, to be clear, the United States is not currently facing a coronavirus pandemic. A pandemic occurs when a disease is spreading diffusely across a large region (or multiple regions). The CDC’s message is intended to encourage organizations to begin thinking about how they will respond if and when the situation escalates beyond what we are facing right now.

We know most of you have already been thinking about this as a community and are taking extra steps at your schools to prevent the spread of infection. This is a critical first step. As you think about your school community’s actions in preparation for an escalation of the current situation, here are some additional steps we recommend taking:

 

  • Continue enforcement of basic hygiene protocols - That means making sure that everyone is washing their hands, covering their coughs and sneezes, and staying home if they notice symptoms.
  • Check the World Health Organization website daily for updates - Resources include a centralized coronavirus page and an interactive map tracking its spread.  
  • Begin thinking through critical questions that may impact your community’s operations - Here’s a list of some questions you might want to consider. 
  • Share a “heads-up” message with families about what you’re doing to prevent and prepare - Here’s a template message you can use as a resource. (Download or make a copy of the template to make edits on your end.)
  • Develop a document articulating your future plans to ensure everyone is on the same page - If and when the situation does escalate, it is imperative that you are able to put your plans into action quickly.

We’ve received one specific question quite a bit from schools over the past 24 hours that we wanted to address directly:

Should we purchase N95 masks for all staff and students on campus?

We know that many of you will be thinking about N95 masks or similar face coverage. While we certainly won’t stop you from buying them, it is important to know that these are not a particularly effective strategy for protecting individuals from contracting the coronavirus. Instead, follow general health and wellness best practices, with a particular focus on thorough hand washing. You can find the CDC page on Coronavirus Prevention & Treatment strategies here.

Other questions may be answered on the WHO’s “Myth Busters” page on the coronavirus.

As a reminder - handling the spread of a serious contagion like the coronavirus is primarily a job for public health agencies. Continue to actively monitor directives from the WHO, CDC, and other governmental organizations like your local department of health. Remember that if you feel like you’re doing all that you can, you probably are.

 

If you have any concerns or questions, don't hesitate to reach out your designated EPC or email us at safety@joffeemergencyservices.com.

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