3/16/20 COVID-19 Update

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Dear St. Michael’s Parents and Families,

We miss you dearly and trust that you are doing well enough on this first day of what will be for certain, though sadly, a long road ahead. We appreciate your nimble response with our decision yesterday afternoon to enact immediately an interim closure of the St. Michael’s campus and the subsequent transition next Monday, March 23rd, to online learning.

The highly disruptive yet prudent and necessary measures that states and cities have embraced more recently in ordering interim school closures is anticipated to have significant preventive effects on the spread of the COVID-19 virus. In embracing this strategy ourselves, we are hoping for the same. At the same time, we recognize that all of this is very difficult, for you and for your families. We are all trying as best we can to manage the immediate anxiety about our own health and the health of so many, and processing the longer-term impacts on the global, national, and local economies, on life at home and beyond, and above all on the education and well-being of our sons and daughters.

A note of clarification: St. Michael’s is not closed. Our physical campus is indeed closed, but our academic program and enrichments will continue online. To that end, we look forward to welcoming you to campus tomorrow, Tuesday, March 17th, for a brief visit, from either 8:00 am – 10:00 am (for Lower School) or from 3:00 pm – 5:00 pm (for Upper School), to pick up the materials your sons and daughters will need for their work at home in the coming weeks. We ask that you arrive, ideally, within the above-noted, scheduled times, but we will accommodate parents at either time. There is no need for your sons and daughters to join you tomorrow, though they are welcome to be here for this brief visit as well.

In preparation for tomorrow’s initial phase of interim transition, all faculty, full- and part-time, met in teams with their respective division directors throughout the day today. I am especially grateful for the professionalism, care, and diligence our faculty have shown in preparation for a different way of providing continuity of learning for our wonderful students. Our teachers have responded in kind these past three weeks to the abrupt program and schedule changes and have adapted quickly and thoughtfully to the needs of our student community. Each has prepared a standards-aligned mini-curriculum, complete with engaging lessons and activities within the current 2019-2020 planned academic curriculum. I will rely on the timely communication of our faculty and division directors to keep you all on pace with this initiative.

You can all expect to receive frequent, timely, and clear communications from me, our division directors, and our faculty and staff throughout this interim period. Please note the following contact information for our administrative team and for me:

Brendan Sullivan, Head of School, bsullivan@stmichael.net
Mandy Hart, Lower School Director, mhart@stmichael.net
Alex Hawes, Upper School Director, ahawes@stmichael.net
Charmaine Lang, Director of Finance and Operations, clang@stmichael.net
Dr. Matt Teller, Associate Head of School / Director of Admissions, mteller@stmichael.net
Dr. Sandi Thompson, School Psychologist, sthompson@stmichael.net
Erika Huff, R.N., School Nurse, ehuff@stmichael.net
Tracy Holsinger, Director of Communication / Faculty Support, tholsinger@stmichael.net
Kim Greene, Director of Athletics, kgreene@stmichael.net
Zach Rebert, Technology Coordinator, zrebert@stmichael.net
Jennifer Gould, High School Placement and Alumni Coordinator, jgould@stmichael.net
Marnie Ackerman, Director of Philanthropy, mackerman@stmichael.net

At present, given the projected return dates at least for local independent and public schools in Tucson, we estimate a potential welcome back to campus for families and students on or near April 20th. At the same time, we simply do not know, and have no reliable way to predict a firm date, even within the most conservative (read: safest) timeline. We continue to monitor and assess a prospective date for return with the help and guidance of local, regional, and national networks for schools. With every ounce of hope that we will see each other again soon under normal circumstances, I will of course provide timely updates for all.

I am deeply grateful to all of you for your patience, care, and support throughout the past three weeks, with special added thanks to so many of you who have reached out with messages of appreciation, with offers to help, and with welcomed guidance from those parents working in the medical and healthcare fields.

As a final note for now, please see the attached article provided by Dr. Sandi Thompson, our school psychologist, on suggestions for speaking with your sons and daughters about COVID-19. (As a way of proceeding for the same, despite the best intentions, I would recommend due caution for watching the films Outbreak or Contagion with your children, as I unwittingly discovered yesterday at home with my own three children!)

Brendan Sullivan
Head of School