Dear NCS Parents, Faculty, and Staff,
Thank you for your gracious support this week. This is a unique and stressful time for everyone as we face an unprecedented situation. My heart, thoughts, and prayers are with each of you as we navigate these rough waters. I hope, as a school community, we can help to smooth the next several weeks for you in ways that are thoughtful, caring, and productive.
I ask your forbearance for the length of this message. It is filled with details that will be useful to you, your child, and your family in the coming days, and I urge you to hold onto this email as a resource. You can also find it and other messages from the school related to COVID-19 online
School Reopening Date
Our foremost responsibility at the Cathedral Close schools is protecting the health and safety of our students, families, faculty and staff. Following the recommendations of public health and safety experts, NCS, St. Albans, and Beauvoir have agreed that our schools intend to reopen to students, faculty, and staff on Monday, April 13.
Athletic practices, scrimmages, and games before this date are canceled, as are musical and theater rehearsals and performances. Hopefully, school events scheduled before April 13 will be moved to dates later in the spring, but some may need to be canceled. We are reviewing calendar options now, keeping in mind the special traditions that are an important part of our spring. (The Junior/Senior Prom, for instance, has been moved to Friday, May 29.) Regrettably, though, there is not enough time left in the school year to reschedule all events, and some important ones may have to be canceled. We will follow up with more information on any calendar changes.
Educational Plan/Athletics Schedule
After spring break, NCS will move to a remote-learning model. Monday, March 30, will be a planning and organization day for faculty and staff, and instruction will begin on Tuesday, March 31.
This model cannot replicate the in-person classroom experience; nor will it provide synchronous instruction for the full length of a school day. Rather, our goal is to maintain connection and continuity by engaging students in independent projects, reading assignments, and the like as well as in short intervals of online learning, adapted to the varied needs of Lower, Middle and Upper School students. We will also schedule advisory, class meetings, chapels, and other opportunities that engage our community online while our buildings are closed.
We will provide a remote-learning guide to students, parents, faculty, and staff before we return from spring break.
Although an online educational experience is quite a change from our normal school days, we will take great care to normalize the academic experience for your children. The teachers are committed and have been preparing diligently for this contingency, in case we could not return to school as scheduled. In fact, faculty devoted the day today to refining our plan. We are grateful for their talent and dedication! Our robust technology and connectivity capabilities thankfully make possible today what could not occur even a decade ago.
We suggest that parents use spring break to talk with their children about ways to ease the transition to learning at home. For example, where might be the best place to work with minimal distraction? Do families feel that they are equipped with the appropriate technology and remote connection? (Please let us know if you would like assistance navigating this topic.) In addition, sustaining the relationships among our community is important. Parent discussions around how best to keep your children's friends connected would be comforting, as well.
NCS and the other schools in the Independent School League (ISL) are talking daily about the impact of COVID-19 on the league schedule. The Athletic Department will also work with US Rowing and the Combined Cathedral Crew Rowing Club. Further information will be supplied shortly to coaches and Upper School athletes.
As the global travel picture keeps changing, we are getting questions about family travel over spring break.
If you have travel plans, we urge you to check regularly with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention
and consider their assessment for any destination—international or domestic—that you may visit. Keep in mind that travel restrictions may change with little notice, and those returning from areas deemed by the CDC to be high-risk may face unexpected difficulties, particularly now that the World Health Organization has declared a global pandemic.
People have asked whether going to particular locations would create a difficulty for returning to campus. Unfortunately, with new outbreaks being reported daily, it’s an impossible question for us to answer. Instead, we are relying on the CDC's assessment to guide our response: Families who travel to areas the CDC has designated at Level 2 or 3 must notify School Nurse Virginia McCreight RN
before their children can return to campus. Please know also that the CDC urges those who have visited Level 2 or 3 areas to limit interactions with others for the 14 days following travel.
If you or a family member acquire COVID-19, you must notify Nurse McCreight.
During spring break, we will do a deep clean of hard and soft surfaces in our buildings. We will finish installing new, higher-rated air filters in the Athletic Center and complete our steam-cleaning of upholstery and carpets.
Before break, we had begun spraying a chlorinated-water disinfectant in each room and common area. This is a complement to our longstanding daily practice of cleaning high-touch surfaces throughout the school, including desktops, dining tables, banisters, switches, knobs, and handles, with disinfectant wipes.
Please join me in thanking our facilities team for their hard work in this effort.
I wanted to share with you some self-care tips from our Health & Wellness team.
Washing hands often with soap and water, for at least 20 seconds, is the best method of protection against coronavirus. Hand sanitizer is effective, but not as effective as proper handwashing at preventing the spread of a virus. If you are outside of your home, use a paper towel to pull open a restroom door to exit.
Carrying a personal water bottle daily can be helpful. The early spring means that plants are blooming, which signals that allergy season is right around the corner. Staying well-hydrated can relieve allergy symptoms, such as coughing and sneezing, that may be misunderstood at the moment as flu symptoms.
Keep tabs on family members about what they are thinking and feeling. If it would be helpful to talk to one of our counselors or chaplains about questions or concerns related to COVID-19, I encourage you to reach out. They are available to students, parents, faculty, and staff.
The NCS Administrative Team and members of the greater Close community are conferring daily about the latest guidance from experts and adjusting our response as needed. Be assured that NCS will keep you informed on steps we take. Information continues to be updated online at ncs.cathedral.org/coronavirus
. Please email any questions you have to us at NCSHealth@cathedral.org
I am heartened by the generosity the NCS community has shown at a complex and difficult time. As we all practice our social distancing over the next two weeks, I am really going to miss seeing our school community each day!
I will be local all spring break, so please feel free to reach out: Email NCSHealth@cathedral.org and/or email me directly at email@example.com
if you have any questions, concerns, or suggestions.
Thank you for your ongoing partnership and support.
Head of School
National Cathedral School