Coronavirus: Policies, Protocols, and Procedures, An Inside Perspective

Submitted by Melissa Myers, Associate Head of School

Being a school administrator often means that we have to split ourselves into pieces and sometimes venture far outside of the parameters of both job description and area of expertise.  We are educators, first and foremost, but also business executives, human resource personnel, sales people, parents, doctors, and risk management advisors, to name a few. In times of crisis, difficult decisions have to be made, and they should never be done in isolation. 

In late February, I attended the annual National Association of Independent Schools conference in Philadelphia. As you can imagine, the hot topic of conversation was the Coronavirus.  At a Wednesday workshop, the CDC and NAIS legal counsel laid out some facts--the same facts that you have received in memos from Sterne School, and no doubt, from your workplaces, gyms, airlines, and various entertainment venues.  Over the next few days, I spoke with colleagues who run schools across the country and around the globe, and everyone agreed that the number one priority is the same now as it always has been: our students and their wellbeing. Sterne School may be on the front lines as the COVID-19 situation evolves in the Bay Area, but we are ahead of the curve when it comes to preparedness--that was made clear at this conference. 

For the past week and a half, Ed and I met with representatives from the Leadership Team, the Technology Department, and Safety Committee to review our plans, protocols, and procedures in consideration of the COVID-19 epidemic. We were careful to consider only facts provided by the CDC, WHO, and local health officials, which are represented in the chart below:

Procedure/Protocol Key Considerations Report on Progress
School Closure

-Faculty, staff, student diagnosed with COVID-19

-Relative of faculty, staff, student diagnosed

-SFUSD determines risk too great to remain open

Experiential Trip Cancellation

-CDC issues "non-essential" travel ban on a country of travel

-Partner travel companies cancels trip due to risk (CloseUP for D.C., Chill Expeditions for Costa Rica, Sports World Global Solutions for Denmark)

-San-Francisco issues city-wide quarantine

-Sterne School closes

-Sterne determines risk is too great to travel

Distance Learning Plan (in the event of school closure)

Students will continue to receive instruction, classwork, and homework through a distance learning plan. Considerations include:

-Wifi availability for students at home

-Consistency, stability, and structure for students and families in a challenging time

-Ease of use for students, families, and teachers

-Oversight of the program

-Accommodations and support for students

Best Practices for a Health Community

-Model and make time for hand-washing, cleaning classrooms, devices, handles, etc.

-Review basis of distance learning plan with students (Google Classroom, LMS, and student expectations)

-Ensure that students bring iPads home every night

-Communicate often with all members of Sterne community

-Building deep clean

-Review upcoming school events; consider risk


*Please note that the Distance Learning Plan Framework and Expectations for Lower School (UEMS) and Upper School (HS) will only be sent out to families in the event of a school closure that lasts for more than 3 consecutive school days. 

You’ll be hearing more about our Strategic Plan at the May Town Hall coming up, but you should know that communication is one of our Big Four commitments. As I prepare for the transition from Associate Head of School to Head of School for the 2020-2021 school year, I hope to continue bringing all Sterne community members into the fold and through this change model.  I can’t promise that we won’t hit roadblocks or bumps along the way, but I can promise that we will get through the COVID-19 epidemic together and we will emerge from this as a stronger and more informed Sterne School family. 

Stay healthy and practice those elbow bumps.  They can get awkward.