Dear SSIS Parents (but especially our High School Parents) –
We continue to closely monitor the situation with regards to the current stomach virus. At this point, our elementary and middle school divisions appear to have isolated cases among students and teachers and limited absences. The High School is a different picture. The number of students absent from school because of the virus continues to grow and thus our response needs to adapt.
In High School we have so many students out sick that in many classes it has been impossible for the teachers to move forward with regularly planned lessons.
We know that the incubation period for this virus is between five to ten days. Some students have experienced mild symptoms for one or two days and returned to school only to fall ill again with more serious symptoms and miss several more days. We are monitoring these students so that they do not return to class too early and increase the risk of spreading the virus to their classmates.
The High School is only three weeks away from the start of first semester exams and the number of students who are falling ill continues to rise. We feel strongly that we must address this situation so that our students are prepared to end the first semester academically strong and healthy.
SSIS administrative leaders and a representative of our health services met today to discuss the situation and our response. Our goals are:
- To protect the health of our students, teachers, and staff and to stem the spread of this particular virus.
- To continue to deliver the best education for our students.
We have decided, therefore, to cancel JV and varsity sports, and club and art activities as of 3:00 pm this afternoon through Monday of next week. All High School students, teachers, and HS staff will be required to leave school at that time and not return until Tuesday morning, 22 November 2016. There will be no High School activities on campus for the next four days, including planned optional sports practices over the weekend. The High School will not hold classes on campus tomorrow or Monday of next week.
- All High School classes on Friday and Monday will be conducted virtually through our online learning portal, Moodle. Students are responsible for obtaining and completing assignments posted there by their teachers. These are academic days of instruction.
- Our teachers will be online and available to students for consultation on both Friday and Monday during the academic hours (07:45 – 15:30), both for class assignments and other long-term projects that are now going on.
- Students may contact their University Counselor electronically for continued help with applications which are coming due.
- All outside activities, including sports and the arts, are cancelled. The drama performance, scheduled for tonight and Friday night, has been rescheduled until next week and the music concert scheduled for next Thursday night will also be pushed back on the calendar. Varsity and JV games on Monday will be cancelled and we will do our best to reschedule.
- We will increase our efforts to sterilize the High School rooms and furnishings as contact with infected surfaces is the most likely way that this virus is being spread.
We are asking for the help our students and parents to help stop the spread of this virus.
- During the next four days, High School students should limit contact with their classmates and others. Our response will have limited effectiveness if students spend the next four days hanging out with other students and friends. Remember, the incubation period is five to ten days. A student may not know they are ill and still pass this on to another classmate.
- High School students (in fact, all students) should not share food or water bottles. This is actually a good practice even in times when everyone is relatively healthy. (We should remind parents that there is no evidence of any link to food services at the school or elsewhere.)
- Work is important, but so is sleep. Friday and Monday should be viewed as school days and students still need to get to bed on time. Students who are deprived of adequate rest are much more likely to succumb to illness.
- On Tuesday, 22 November 2016, any student who has been ill within the last 36 hours (Sunday or Monday), must first report to the nurse’s office before reporting to class.
As a school we will reassess the situation as school begins again next week in the High School and make any adjustments we feel necessary to protect the health of our community. No one, least of all teachers, likes to miss an opportunity for face-to-face class time. However, in taking this step we are trying to keep the broader interests of our students in mind and we appreciate the support of our parents.
Mark Sylte, Head of School
PS – I would like to express a specific apology to our wonderful parents of the PTA whose scheduled “Teacher Appreciation Luncheon” is tomorrow, Friday, 17 November 2016. Unfortunately we believe the situation is such that we must ask High School teachers to remain off campus until Tuesday. We all look forward to this parent-provided feast with great anticipation and are so sorry that we have to take precaution.