⚠️ NAES has added three webchats for chaplains addressing issues of COVID-19. Learn more here.
Updated March 4, 2020
Since The World Health Organization (WHO) declared the Novel Coronavirus (nCOV) to be a global public health emergency, concern has been growing about how schools school be responding and what steps should be taken to ensure the safety of our students, faculty, their families, and our entire school communities. These suggestions and resources can assist Episcopal schools to best insure the safety of their school communities.
What is known about COVID-19 and how best to respond continues to evolve. NAES urges all Episcopal schools to remain abreast information and guidelines that can inform responsible school policies:
World Health Organization
Coronavirus Information Webpage
Centers for Disease Control
Includes information for communities, schools, and businesses.
The National Association of Independent Schools
1. Understanding Coronavirus: What Schools Need to Know
2. Video: Coronavirus (COVID-19) Session at NAIS Annual Conference
The Episcopal Church
Includes a statement from Presiding Bishop Curry, and compilation of resources from other Episcopal organizations.
Fisher Phillips (an NAES Corporate Subscriber)
COVID-19 FAQs And 10-Point Action Plan For Educational Institutions
Your independent school accrediting agency
Many state and regional independent school associations are serving as clearing houses for school planning and response.
Your county or state health departments
Should a case or cases of COVID-19 be identified in your town, city, or county, contact your local health department for guidance.
Your local public school district
Partner with your local public school district on any proposed or planned school responses and policies.
Your Episcopal Diocese
Many Episcopal dioceses have issued guidelines for congregations, including for worship, such as communion and the passing of the peace. Here are some examples:
- The Episcopal Church in Connecticut
Precautions Regarding the Coronavirus
- The Episcopal Diocese of Maryland
Message from Bishop Sutton on Liturgical Practices and the Coronavirus Outbreak
Activate Your Crisis Response Team
All schools should have a crisis response team to monitor information from local or national health professionals, develop preparedness plans, implement any action, and insure clear and timely communications with the school community.
Consider plans and procedures related to:
- Education of all school constituents about preventative practices for COVID-19
- Student or family travel, such as:
- school-sponsored trips abroad or to major national or international gatherings
- parents who may travel to or from significantly affected areas on business
- faculty, staff, parents and students who may travel to or from significantly affected areas for spring break or other personal reasons
- Potential quarantine of one or more students
- Potential quarantine of one or more faculty or staff members
- Potential short-term school closure
Lead Our Communities
In his March 2, 2020 Weekly Meditation to Episcopal school leadership, NAES Executive Director Dan Heischman wrote:
Clearly, not only the content of our plans and the means of our communications, but how we plan, communicate, and model responsible behavior is crucial. Our schools are seeking to strike a midway point between vigilance and anxiety, balancing our alertness and readiness to act with a desired calmness and clarity in communication. In doing this, we are modeling for our families a way of responding to what may well be inevitable, a disruption in our daily life unlike anything that most of us have experienced in recent times.
Adding to this mixture are the significant economic implications and emerging concerns about how and when to travel, or even gather in public. There is also the need for protecting those who may well be targets of profiling. All of these swirling factors could well issue in huge denial or, alternatively, downright panic. We need to rise above both of these extremes, and proceed with constant vigilance and caution, seeking to face what may well be inevitable with reason and care for others.
The novelist Mary Higgins Clark observed, “We all hang by a thread, and there are many things we cannot choose about our lives. It’s how we react to the inevitable that counts.” The “what” we provide for our school communities—updates, resources, contingency plans—is vitally important; so, too, is the “how” that we provide, living out our roles as moral exemplars and grounded guides to our families.”
Be Vigilant to Racism
As this opinion piece for The Washington Post describes, attempts to address a potentially global threat often fall into the repetition of age-old stereotypes and racist tropes against people of Chinese heritage or origin. Even major educational institutions are falling short in this regard. Though the university subsequently apologized, a since-deleted instagram post from UC-Berkeley generated a swift backlash after listing “xenophobia” under a list of “common reactions” to Coronavirus.
Is your parish or school closed ? Many prominent Episcopal churches and cathedrals are worshipping online:
- Washington National Cathedral
- Cathedral of St. John the Divine
- St. James’ Church, NYC
- St. Bart’s Church, NYC
- St. Martin’s, Houston
Is your church or school chapel worshipping online? Email firstname.lastname@example.org to be listed on this page.