Healy Closes School Through Weekend in Response to Possible Coronavirus Threat in Menlo Community

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Coronavirus' protein structure. Creative Commons image: National Institutes of Health on Creative Commons.

Sophia Artandi, Assistant A&L Editor

Updated on March 8, 2020

Head of School Than Healy and the senior administration have closed Menlo through this weekend after learning that a relative of a staff member, who doesn’t work closely with students, has tested positive for coronavirus. In an email on Saturday morning, Healy said that the staff member is still awaiting test results for COVID-19 and is currently self-isolating. Classes will resume Monday with a day four.

The email on Saturday also said that there will be some “modifications” to student life to try and keep coronavirus at bay. For the time being, the school will close the self-serve stations and “reconfigure the seating” in the cafeteria. More school events have been cancelled, including all Menlo Abroad trips and Writer’s Week.

As for schoolwork, division directors have reached out to teachers and students about assignments. “As the closure is currently projected to last through the weekend, we’re encouraging faculty to allow for some down time and provide students with opportunities to catch up on current projects and assignments,” Director of Communications Alex Perez said in an email to The Coat of Arms. According to Perez, if school needs to be canceled beyond this weekend, classes will continue with remote learning.

Some teachers plan to continue lessons and assignments through the next few days via video, one of them being math teacher Danielle Jensen. “While nothing beats face-to-face interaction and teaching, I do think that I can be somewhat effective as a teacher remotely through creating online videos,” she said in an email to The Coat of Arms.

In an email to the entire Menlo community on Tuesday, Healy said that the school will be going through a “deep clean.” According to an all-school email on Wednesday, Facilities Director Loren Arms has hired an outside cleaning service and other than security, no one is allowed on campus. According to Healy, the cleaning will be done on Sunday.

Perez declined to identify the staff member who had contact with someone who tested positive for COVID-19 and said that the school was following direction from the San Mateo County Health Department and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). 

According to Perez, the decision to close school was made out of an abundance of caution, and he feels encouraged by the care shown by the families in the Menlo community. “We are taking this one step at a time. The administration is prepared to handle different scenarios and we’ll deal with them as they come into place. Our main concern is for the health and safety of everyone in our community,” he said in an email to The Coat of Arms.