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COVID-19 Update – March 10, 2020

Dear Bishop O’Dowd High School Community,

We are grateful for the outpouring of comments, advice, encouragement, and prayers shared by O’Dowd parents and guardians regarding concerns about COVID-19. We are keenly aware of the gravity of our decisions and continue to prioritize the health and well-being of our community. 

To that end, we’ve developed the decision-making map below to guide us should circumstances escalate. The plan maps three scenarios outlined by the California Department of Public Health (CDPH) and the California Department of Education (CDE) School Guidance on COVID-19. We are following guidelines from federal and state agencies, and remaining in dialogue with local health agencies and the Diocese of Oakland. Currently, the situation for O’Dowd remains unchanged and we have not been asked by either the Alameda County Public Health Department or the Diocese of Oakland to alter any operations.

Current Scenario – Scenario I: Measures underway to prevent the spread of COVID-19

We have been implementing all possible preventive steps outlined in this scenario, including increased education about handwashing, encouraging community members to stay at home when ill, and intensifying cleaning on campus. Please review the information on our website and emailed to families Friday, March 6 for full details.  We are closely collaborating with public health agencies and the Diocese of Oakland to model the best preventive practices. As a precautionary measure, we are reviewing scheduled events, including Spring Break trips, and in some cases postponing, cancelling, or moving them online if possible. We ask that those attending school events on or off campus adhere to the hygiene tips in the March 6 communication shared on our site and with families. 

Scenario II: If there are any community transmission cases of COVID-19 (involving parents, siblings, or relatives of our students, teachers, and staff), but no individuals within the school test positive.

O’Dowd will implement “social distancing” strategies when encouraged by public health officials. We will work with schools and school-related organizations to cancel concerts, assemblies, athletic events, and other large group activities. These changes would be communicated via email to families and O’Dowd’s website. Please note that at this time, the CDC, Alameda County Public Health Department (ACPHD), and Diocese of Oakland have not recommended event cancellations.

Scenario III: If a student, teacher or staff member tests positive for COVID-19 We may be guided by ACPHD and the Diocese of Oakland to initiate long-term dismissal. This decision would include all academic and co-curricular activities, both on and off campus. We would cancel off campus trips. This decision would be made in close collaboration with public health officials, who would also guide the process to reopen the school safely, ensuring our community’s health and well-being. This decision, and more details, would be communicated via email and O’Dowd’s website. The decision to return to school would be reached in communication with ACPHD and the Diocese of Oakland.

In the case that we initiate long-term dismissal to protect community health, we will continue classes via a digital learning protocol, including: 

  1. Equity of Opportunity, ensuring all students have access to home wifi as well as assignments that reflect their learning styles and needs

  2. Sustained Learning in a Time of Long-Term Dismissal, ensuring sustained learning activities that help prepare students for year-end assessments (projects, AP exams, second semester exams). The primary purpose of sustained learning is to provide our students with healthy structure, familiarity, and connection with the school community.  Our academic departments are preparing support resources and guidelines for student usage that would be communicated to students and families within 24 hours of a long-term dismissal. 

What You Can Do Stay informed:

  1. Be attentive to email updates from O’Dowd

  2. Check the O’Dowd website for coronavirus updates  

Follow Public Health Advice and Information:

  1. Alameda County Public Health:  Coronavirus Disease (COVID-19)

  2. California Public Health Department: Fact Page

  3. CDC: Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19)

  4. CDC: Hand Washing Instructions

  5. CDC: Get Your Household Ready for COVID-19

Thank you for your patience, understanding, flexibility, and resilience as we plan and implement measures to ensure our community’s health and safety. Continued blessings on our Lenten journey and our increased prayers for the continued health and well-being of all impacted.

Sincerely, James Childs, M.A., M.Ed., President

Christopher Smart, Ed.D., Principal

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