Dear Parents and Colleagues:
In light of the information I shared with you in my electronic letter of March 12, I thought it prudent to convey the conclusions that our school leaders have reached regarding how best to protect you, your children, and the broader community during this difficult time. We have decided that the wisest course of action is to close our campus to non-employees, effective immediately, until at least April 5.
While the campus is officially closed, all school activities -- whether on or off campus -- are officially postponed. We will continue to monitor the spread of COVID-19 and regularly report to you regarding our timetable for reopening the campus and rescheduling events.
I'm an optimist by nature. Even in the most frightful circumstances, I look for silver linings, and my cup is always half full; and yet closing my eyes to unpleasant realities will not minimize the seriousness of this crisis.
To slow the spread of the coronavirus, we're all going to have to change our normal behaviors -- and perhaps for an extended period of time. As I write this, 33 states have already decided to close their public schools in order to reduce opportunities for the transmission of COVID-19; and more states will surely follow, although Oklahoma is not yet one of them.
Within the next week, tens of thousands of Oklahomans will return from their vacation destinations, both near and far. They may return to Oklahoma cities and towns that already have their first confirmed cases of COVID-19; and some of the returnees may themselves be sick, or on the verge of sickness. "Flattening the curve" of the epidemic's growth will mitigate the sort of spike in sickness that could overwhelm our healthcare infrastructure; so, as responsible citizens and good neighbors, slowing the spread of the virus in Oklahoma City is now our primary job.
We owe it to each other, and especially to those who are most vulnerable, to adopt a "lockdown" mentality. Remaining at home for the next few weeks can't be viewed as an extended vacation with playdates, sleepovers, or trips to the mall. Flattening the curve will require full measures of discipline and sacrifice: so, please stay home as much as possible, using the time, perhaps, to begin spring-cleaning, to tend your garden, to help your children with their homework, or -- as a treat -- to binge-watch your favorite movies and TV series.
Despite the closure of our campus, learning will continue apace. On Friday, March 20, we will provide families with more specific information about the details of the distance learning initiative that our teachers and administrators have developed during the past three weeks.
Beginning Friday, please make sure that you and/or your student(s) check email and the school portal on a daily basis for information updates. We will use Monday the 23rd as a faculty dress rehearsal day. Heritage Hall will begin remote learning on Tuesday, March 24. Until then, please take care to maintain appropriate social distance.
Know that we intend to make lemonade out of the proverbial lemons that have landed in our laps, and we urge you to do the same. Although we cannot know the extent to which many of our families will be challenged in the weeks ahead, we recognize that some of you will face difficulties that will entail significant hardship and demand heightened levels of ingenuity.
Meanwhile, this is a time to listen to the better angels of our nature. It's a time for grit -- a time to stubbornly deny this virus access to our bodies and to the bodies of those we love by making a commitment to changing our behavior: for the foreseeable future, we must delay the gratification of going where we wish and doing what we choose whenever we so desire. In this regard, let us all be wise and disciplined; and in so doing, let us hope for a joy-filled reunion on the far side of the outbreak.
Guy A. Bramble