20 March 2020

Update on the Covid-19 virus

Dear NOVA community,  

Update as of March 20th:

Our government instituted a 30-day state of emergency earlier this week, closing airports, warning against travel, restricting social gatherings and movement. This decision has extended our online learning plan until Tuesday, April 21 at the earliest, notwithstanding additional extensions mandated by our government, or by our school. 

We decided NOT to change our school calendar, and NOT to change our spring break dates. This year the spring break will not help connecting to others, or traveling, but after 5 weeks of online learning, it will offer a much needed relief for everyone after being constantly plugged-in. 

Update as of March 16th:

Please note that the school is currently closed. We have only essential staff on duty, and will be answering phones from 10am-2pm. 

Update as of March 10th:

Dear all, 

Research published today suggests that there is an average 5-day incubation period for the novel corona-virus. Transmission rates (during this rather long incubation period) are not well known. An exponential contagion such as the world is witnessing could also be attributed to asymptomatic transmission. No social institution, however proactive and well-equipped is fully ready to prevent all further spread. 

 

Under such circumstances and as a school we must acknowledge that we have an important role in preventing a wider spread of the virus. We understand that the public education system in our country is considering closing schools. We are announcing that as of tomorrow morning March 11, 2020 our school is going to Level 4, and our campus will be closed for our students until March 24, 2020. We will follow any additional guidance for schools issued by our government, and extend this period in line with their recommendation, once more information becomes available.      

 

We are enabling our online scenario for the Continuation of Learning during a School Closure. We will ask all our faculty to come to work this week, to support everyone's seamless transfer to an online learning model. Parents, if you haven't already, please expect information from your teachers shortly. 

 

As well, and for obvious reasons, we are postponing our Fundraising Gala. We appreciate the interest for this event, and promise to reschedule it, at the next possible opportune date. We are also postponing the Evening of Classical Music, until further notice.  

 

Parents, we understand that this change may impact your family dynamic, including having to provide for childcare. By moving our programs online we are hopeful that no learning will be lost, and perhaps more importantly, that new learning will be inspired.  

We appreciate that in such extraordinary times we bear witness to the overwhelming support and care for each other. I am sure that we will move closer together as a community, despite such circumstances, and also likely because of such circumstances. 

 

Update as of March 8th, 2020:

Dear all,

We are witnessing a continuing spread of the corona-virus in our region, including more cases in Italy and Greece, and first cases in Serbia, Bulgaria and Albania, including school closures in Italy and Albania. We are concerned about the announcement today of an additional case in Skopje, and the holiday travel which continues to be organized by local tour operators to affected regions. 

Our crisis management team met early this morning and decided to raise our community's risk assessment to Level 2, starting tomorrow March 10. Below please find clarifications for major areas of operation that are affected by Level 2:  

Closed Campus: 
- All high school students will remain on campus during the entire school day. Please look for HS announcements about additional campus activities and spaces to enrich the day.
- Our HS cafeteria is prepared to serve more students; families are also encouraged to pack extra food from home.  
- Our faculty and staff can meet with outside members by appointment only, after visitors are screened at the door, using a questionnaire and a thermal check. 

School Events: - All Nova community events must include members only


- We are postponing our HS performance. This is a large scale (500+) event which involves frequent rehearsals (field trips to the theater) and many non-Nova invitees. We will consider alternative formats for staging it soon, please stay tuned for updates.  
All field trips are cancelled (with many of them postponed or taking on a different format)
- The upcoming Fundraising Gala is organized by the Alumni Association and the PTA, and will take place. If you have purchased tickets, please attend only if you haven't traveled to an affected region (on the government's travel advisory), and do not exhibit any flu-like symptoms. Please expect additional screenings at the door. We apologize for the inconvenience.

Bus service: 

Our bus service continues to run as normal. Signs on our buses indicate that we do not allow children with flu-like or common cold symptoms to board. We cannot allow boarding with common cold symptoms only because a medical distinction cannot be made by our bus staff. We appreciate your understanding.   


Workplace health protocols: 

- Our Cleaning and Cafeteria Staff protocols have been updated for Level 2, which includes additional daily cleaning and disinfection of all spaces, and wearing additional protective gear by our kitchen and custodial staff.  

School Closure on March 25, 2020:  - Due to being at Level 2 in our risk assessment, we have set aside Wednesday March 25, 2020 to run our first School Closure Drill. Our students will need to remain homeduring the full day, while learning is being facilitated by our teachers entirely online, using class-specific online learning platforms. Our teachers have either finished or are finalizing their planing. In the coming days they send advice on how to access the needed online resources, and how to best support your own child in an online learning environment. We will greatly appreciate parent support and understanding, in planning for their child to stay at home on March 25, 2020, and for helping them have a productive day of learning. We continue to monitor the corona-virus situation by liaising with the Macedonian authorities, our regional school association, and the US Embassy in Skopje, and we will update you on our plans and next steps. Please stick to normal precautionary measures common for any flu season, and do not forget to be kind to others. The very best to everyone on this Monday afternoon. 

For more information please visit our Covid-19 resource page: https://nova.edu.mk/covid-19_resources_.aspx