I am grateful for your support as we approach the upcoming weeks at school. I remain in regular communication with the school’s Clinical Analyst Group, the school’s Leadership Team, fellow heads of school at peer independent schools, and our state and regional independent school associations as Duke School charts its path forward. In addition, I remain in contact with the Durham County Public Health Department for ongoing direction on any matter that I believe may affect our school.
Please take time to review the information below. I also ask you to take time at home to revisit with your family the protocols outlined in our Return to School Guide.
Please Read: Addressing the Time Following Thanksgiving
The final weeks of this year traditionally offer important opportunities for travel, gathering in large groups, and many visits with family and friends.
This year, the choices each of us makes in the weeks ahead will affect our ability to continue offering on-campus learning and, most important, can impact the health and well being of our students, teachers, staff and families at Duke School. Every family and employee in our community has signed Duke School’s community commitment. In signing this, you agreed to abide by the precautionary measures outlined both in the commitment and by our state and federal health agencies. I ask that you carefully reread this commitment now. I also ask that you help in these ways:
Flu shots - Every member of every family is strongly encouraged to get the flu shot, this year and every year. Doing so will considerably reduce the risk of becoming ill with influenza.
Non-essential travel - The CDC continues to support safer-at-home strategies. Learn more about CDC recommendations regarding travel here.
Parties and family gatherings - The CDC has advised to keep holiday plans small, outdoors, distanced, and masked. Click here to see how the CDC categorizes Thanksgiving activities according to risk.
Following up - If anyone in your family comes into contact with someone exhibiting COVID symptoms or who may be positive for the virus, do not return to campus or interact with other students/families. Instead, contact both your medical provider and Duke School.
Please know that Duke School does not support self-quarantining as a result of extended vacations on the part of families. A determination to have your child “self-quarantine” for 14 days if your family has not adhered to our Community Commitment, state, and federal guidelines places a tremendous burden on our faculty. Unfortunately, our faculty do not have equal opportunity to simply self-quarantine following the holidays. In addition, multiple students moving from on-campus learning to distance learning at unscheduled times burdens the program. In an effort to best meet the needs of all students, we aim to keep groupings for in-person and distance programs consistent, with exceptions only for illnesses. For these reasons, we cannot support planned absences or vacations in the same way. Of course, if you believe you have been exposed, we certainly ask that you do not return to campus. However, we also ask that you work in the spirit of our commitment and make choices that will serve our entire community during this challenging time for all.
Finally, this situation remains fluid. Our current hope is to return to campus for in-person instruction following the Thanksgiving break. Of course, that could change, as we remain committed to following current scientific and medical recommendations when making decisions regarding the health and safety of our students, employees, and families.
Even with our significant risk mitigation measures in place, we must remember that the choices and actions each of us makes may have an impact on our community as a whole. Your support and partnership have paved the way for a successful three months at Duke School, and we are grateful for this. As our faculty and staff continue to bring our mission to life daily, creating outstanding learning experiences for your children, we continue to ask for your help, especially during the weeks ahead.
Head of School