October 30, 2009
Dear Parents and Guardians,
As you know, our primary concern is the health and well-being of your children. Due to a dramatic increase in flu-like symptoms, and a resulting increase of absenses with both students and staff, I want to inform you that we have made the decision to close St. Catherine of Siena School. When the decision to close is made, the Department of Public Health in Massachusetts states the closing must be for a period of 5 school days. School will be closed beginning at the close of the day on Friday, October 30th and reopen on Monday, November 9, 2009. In addition, all school-related activities are cancelled for the duration of the closing. The goal is to stop the spread of this H1N1 flu virus within the Saint Catherine’s community and within the community at large. It has been recommended by the Board of Health that ill children and parents remain at home during the recovery of this illness to avoid the spread of the H1N1 flu virus.
Like communities and schools across the Commonwealth, we have been closely monitoring the significant increase in students and staff who have become sick as a result of the flu, particularly what is believed to be the H1N1 influenza virus. State and local health officials have informed us that any and all flu-like symptoms are likely due to H1N1 since our area is not yet experiencing any of the seasonal flu-like outbreaks.
In recent days I communicated to you that we were experiencing an increase in students being absent with flu-like symptoms at St. Catherine of Siena School. Over the past three days the number of students and faculty becoming ill has increased dramatically. As of today we have over 140 students absent (approximately 25 %) as well as 14 of our 40 faculty members, with the expectation these numbers could increase in the days ahead.
In addition to closing, you should be aware of the following:
- We will remain in close contact with state and local health officials and have received outstanding response, guidance and information;
- Health officials recommend that parents and students refrain from congregating outside of school during the period of closure or any time when flu-like symptoms are present within the family;
- We have also been in contact with the Archdiocese of Boston Catholic Schools Office and the Office of Parish Services and they are assisting St. Catherine’s at this time;
- We have scheduled sanitizing of the school over the next several days;
- Parents, teachers and staff are encouraged to visit the school website daily for updates (http://www.scsnorwood.com);
- Parents are asked to assist students in keeping up with their assignments during this period.
Please also continue to practice good hygiene (i.e, cover your cough or sneeze with your elbow, wash your hands often with soap and water or use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer, stay home when you’re sick (and for a period of 5-7 days following the start of symptoms when the student is still capable of contaminating others), stay away from people who are sick and get a flu vaccination). For more information on how to prevent the spread of the flu/H1N1, as well as other helpful information, please visit the CDC webpage at http://www.cdc.gov/H1N1FLU/.
Again, the health and well-being of our students, faculty and staff are our top priority. We know that the closure may pose an inconvenience to you. However, given the increasing numbers of students and faculty reporting ill, and our responsibility for everyone’s safety, it is in the best interest of those within the school family that we close for this period of time. We appreciate your patience, understanding and cooperation.
If you have any questions or concerns, please contact me at 781-769-5354 or via email at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Mrs. Gretchen Hawley