Friday Letter

February 28, 2020

Dear Parents,

With so much attention on the movement of the COVID-19 in the world, I wanted to take a moment to address the issue.  First, our school maintains internal health procedures informed by best practices, and I am frequently in communication with the KDHE (Kansas Department of Health & Environment).  Their focus is presently on international travelers entering the state, but they are also working on guidance for schools and other organizations to handle a potential outbreak of contagion.  This is not a new situation for state and federal health authorities, and their response to the spread of this strain of the coronavirus in the U.S. would be similar to that of the H1N1 virus in 2009.

As you probably know, the Flu is a significantly greater threat locally and nationally right now, and the same habits that we reinforce with students every winter season will mitigate much of the risk of contagion with COVID-19 should it become an issue in Kansas:

Washing one’s hands often (and before and after visiting restrooms)

Avoiding touching one’s face throughout the day

Covering one’s coughs

Avoiding drinking from the same receptacles as other people

Staying home from school when ill

Not returning to school until one has been fever-free for at least 24 hours

Keeping one’s distance from others when one is sick

In the event that COVID-19 were to spread into Kansas and the local area, the school is prepared to take additional steps to protect students, including protocol for social events, dining procedures, interpersonal contact, and so forth.

Although I believe we should take the threat of a pandemic very seriously and should be prepared to handle such a situation regardless of what the future will bring, I am equally concerned about how media representation of this situation may unnecessarily be stoking fear and anxiety.  Early evidence suggests this strain of the coronavirus presents itself with mild symptoms in most cases.  The mortality rate has been around 2.3%, and the virus has been most dangerous in the original area of infection (due to the impact on the medical infrastructure) and with the elderly and those with existing health issues that predispose them to complications—much like influenza.  It is not my place to tell other adults how they should feel about this situation, and I can assure you we will take all necessary steps to look after your kids.  However, I will be assuring students that there is no reason to panic, even if they should take this virus and all health concerns seriously.

At present, I am not concerned about our Greece spring break trip being affected, but Ms. Meyers and I will be communicating with parents of trip participants directly.

On to regular school business: Break-a-Leg to our cast of Duck Variations tonight.  We hope you can come out to enjoy this student-directed production and the work of our Upper School performers!

Good luck to our ferocious Boys Varsity Basketball Team as they head to Sub-State competition on Tuesday!  They are the #1 seed!

Seabury students competed at the Topeka Model UN last week.  Congratulations to Lyle Griggs for winning the Best Negation Speech, placing as first delegate in the Security Council, and winning overall best delegate of the TMUN!  And congratulations to Hugh Griggs on receiving Best Affirmation Speech and second place delegate in World Council. 

Congratulations to Katie Eckert who received the second highest rating in KSHSAA State Piano Competition last Saturday!

Spring sports are authorized by KSHSAA to begin next Monday, though not all Seabury sports will begin on that day.  Please check with your coach or child for details.  If your child is participating, please make sure the recent PPE is on file at the school--no student can participate without having submitted those forms! 

On Ash Wednesday, Fr. Rob spoke to the students and staff about the theme of homecoming and God's primary role in human identity before the imposition of ashes.

Finally, next week is the Spring Fever Grudge Match.  Each year, we try to "channel" the anticipatory energy of students prior to spring break into a 5-day, post-lunch competition between students and staff members.  Most of the events change year-to-year and are the product of Mr. Nelson's twisted imagination.  He has kept specifics about next week's competition under wraps, but as always, the week culminates in the legendary Battle of the Bands on Friday.  That event will occur at 2:15 pm, and parents are welcome to attend.   

Yours respectfully,

Dr. Schawang