School UPDATE: Monday, March 16

St. Mary's Families,  

Welcome to the first "official" day of distance learning.  

Distance Learning.  Speaking of distance learning...  Parents, please ensure your students are CHECKING THEIR E-MAIL.  We know e-mail is for old people like us, but it will be very important for your students to be looking at their e-mail every day, multiple times throughout the day.  

COVID-19 coronavirus.  I was in a webinar today with Dr. Timothy Flanigan, an infectious disease expert and professor at the Brown University Medical School.  He shared a couple of perspectives that you may have heard but bear repeating:

- COVID-19 is VERY infectious and people who haven't been tested don't know they have it until they get sick.  People who are infected are contagious BEFORE they feel sick.

- The time to act is NOW.  Dr. Flanigan was adamant that we need to minimize our person-to-person contact IMMEDIATELY and keep that contact minimized for a minimum of the next two weeks, possibly as long as 4 weeks.

- The virus is spreading quickly.  The recommendations to FREQUENTLY wash your hands and maintain social separation from others will help SLOW (not halt) the spread of the virus.  Six feet minimum separation from others, no shaking hands, no hugging.  REMEMBER, you could have it and not know it, and be spreading it.

- Slowing the spread is critical as right now the respiratory care centers in the U.S. can accommodate the current patient load.  The measures that are being taken now are designed to ensure that the rate that this virus spreads does not exceed our national capacity to deal with it. 

- In light of the highly infectious nature of the virus and the efforts to minimize its spread, travel right now is strongly discouraged.

- Dr. Flanigan encouraged people to get their COVID-19 information from the Center for Disease Control website.  If you see or hear something (to include from ME in these e-mails), you should verify the truth of that information on the CDC website.    

Travel.  As Dr. Flanigan said today, travel right now is not prudent.  If you have travel plans that you CANNOT change, and you are going to be leaving Colorado Springs for spring break, it would be prudent to be prepared for the possibility of having to remain at your travel destination longer than you're planning.  Before you leave, I would STRONGLY encourage you to think about what your student(s) will need if they have to accomplish their coursework from the spring break travel location.  

What's Next?  Things are obviously changing rapidly each day.  If you think about where we were last Thursday morning vs. where we are now, it seems like two different worlds.  No one has a perfect ability to see into the future.  That said, here in the school we are looking into the future and anticipating what challenges could meet us today, tomorrow and in the coming weeks.  We're trying to avoid sending out great volumes of "Here's every single thing we're thinking about."  We want people leaning forward, but we don't want to create confusion by sending out a myriad of options, only one (or maybe none) of which we will actually execute.  Be patient with us as we try to ensure our community is prepared for the future without having to keep their arms around dozens of different possibilities.  

Prayer.  I didn't mention above, Dr. Flanigan is also a Catholic deacon.  He encouraged everyone on the webinar to pray and he led us in prayer at the start of the webinar.  Slow down, carve out time for the Lord.  For the Catholics in Colorado, I hope they all miss the Mass as much as I do.  We should all take some of that Sunday time, that "Mass time," and invest it into personal and family prayer.  

Remember, O most gracious Virgin Mary,
that never was it known that anyone who fled to thy protection,
implored thy help, or sought thy intercession, was left unaided
Inspired by this confidence, I fly unto thee, O Virgin of virgins, my Mother.
To thee do I come, before thee I stand, sinful and sorrowful.
O Mother of the Word Incarnate, despise not my petitions,
but in thy mercy, hear and answer me.

Rob Rysavy
St. Mary's High School