Coronavirus (COVID-19) Updates
The Post Oak School is closely monitoring the global outbreak of the novel coronavirus (COVID-19) and will continually update our community via email and through this page.
STATUS AS OF 4/1: Over the past few days, federal, state, and local governments have extended the period of implemented measures to slow the spread of COVID-19. The Post Oak School will extend the closure of our campuses and deliver distance learning through Thursday, April 30. Although it is entirely possible that this will be extended further, for now, we will plan, with cautious hope, to have staff return on Friday, May 1 and students return on Monday, May 4. Parents and employees, please read our community updates below for more information about cancellations and distance learning plans. The school does not have any confirmed COVID-19 cases.
- April 3: Head of school email with video
- April 1: Head of school email update
- March 31: Board of Trustees email
- March 27: Head of school email update
- March 19: Letter from POPA
- March 17: Head of school email update
- March 12: Head of school email update
- March 11: Head of school email update
- March 6: Head of school email update
- February 28: Head of school email update
On this Friday evening and at the end of our eighth day of distance learning, I'm pleased to send this video update to our families. Please be on the lookout for an email from your division director with a link to parent surveys for each level and for Middle and High School students.
Enjoy your weekend!
Dear Post Oak Families,
Over the past few days, federal, state, and local governments have extended the period of implemented measures to slow the spread of COVID-19. The Post Oak School will extend the closure of our campuses and deliver distance learning through Thursday, April 30. Although it is entirely possible that this will be extended further, for now, we will plan, with cautious hope, to have staff return on Friday, May 1 and students return on Monday, May 4.
Many school activities and events will be canceled during our campus closure, except those we can facilitate in an online format. Faculty has reached out to those who have conferences on April 3 to connect via phone or online. As we get better each day in delivering distance learning, we are brainstorming creative ways to stay connected with our community. Our annual Book Fair has shifted to an online format this week with live-streaming storytime, songs, and activities for each level.
Your family’s health and well-being are our highest priorities. Teachers and advisors have been checking in to make sure everyone in your home is healthy. Our campus has been closed for more than 14 days, and Post Oak is not aware of any confirmed COVID-19 cases that overlapped with our last days in session. At this point, we are not aware of any direct exposure to our community. In an effort to remain aware and connected with all of you, if you are aware of any COVID-19 exposure to the school, please email our nurse, Cristal Roth.
Wishing you all good health,
First, on behalf of the Board of Trustees in these truly extraordinary times, we express heartfelt hope and prayers for the entire Post Oak School community. We wish every family the utmost fortitude and stamina in the coming weeks and months as we each navigate the myriad of consequences that COVID-19 has suddenly imposed upon our personal, professional, and academic lives. This new, unprecedented challenge affects every community globally, and it will take more time before we have a better grasp on all of the impacts—and more particularly, how these changes will shape the new normal. In the meantime, we feel it is important to let you know that the board is engaged and working closely with Maura Joyce to support the leadership team and their stewardship of the Post Oak mission through this challenging situation.
As we've come to almost take for granted in recent years, Post Oak's administrative and faculty teams have again demonstrated tireless poise and resolve in dealing with yet another unique and unexpected predicament. In this rapidly changing situation, there have been many hard decisions to make and these decisions have been communicated and implemented in a thoughtful, timely manner. We should all reasonably expect that we'll have to work through some process kinks and inconveniences in responding to a massive disruption of programming. In this regard, we appeal to the entire Post Oak community for its support, patience, and understanding as everything continuously improves with time. In the meantime, we are fortunate: we have strong, proven leadership we can count on in these most uncertain times.
It's still pretty early to spend a lot of time speculating about scenario-analysis and how all of this will ultimately play out (systemically or chronologically). The board will continue working closely with the leadership team as the situation evolves to ensure that they have the necessary authority and resources to make smart decisions and act expeditiously. And we will continue to heed the guidance of local, state, and federal institutions as we continue implementing thoughtful decisions. We are fortunate that our campuses are in communities with strong community leadership, world-class healthcare, dedicated law enforcement, and reliable transportation/communication infrastructure; and we are very thankful for the many selfless individuals providing these stoic, grassroots services.
Finally, it's important to emphasize that beyond the impromptu actions associated with the COVID-19 response, both school leadership and the board continue their work stewarding the long-term strategy and financial position of the school on a timeframe that looks years beyond the current crisis. Last week, the Finance Committee and Board of Trustees both met (virtually) on their regular schedules to conduct ordinary business in addition to reviewing the school's status and response regarding COVID-19. Our long-term financial outlook remains strong, but like most board meetings, it warranted an appropriate amount of discussion. Going forward, while many aspects of life and school will undoubtedly have to adapt to whatever the new normal brings, we have confidence in the Post Oak leadership and our community's resiliency to overcome this challenge in a way that makes our institution even stronger in the future. Please feel free to contact me directly with further questions, concerns, or suggestions.
As we head into the weekend, I want to thank our students and parents for embracing change and diving into our new distance learning program with gusto! Here's a short video to end a week unlike any other. Wishing your family a restful and joyful weekend.
Dear Post Oak Families,
As parents of Post Oak students and as parent association (POPA) co-chairs, we are reaching out during this unprecedented time to let our community members know that we are here for you. Post Oak’s amazing team has weathered many storms over the years. We are thankful to the faculty and staff for their preparedness, for keeping students safe, and for providing an astounding level of education. This is why we choose Post Oak!
One of POPA’s goals this year has been greater community involvement. As we move from in-person/on-campus interactions to virtual environments, we remain committed to fostering a sense of close connection and conversation among Post Oak families. If you have not already done so, please join our new Post Oak School Facebook group. It’s a go-to place for resources, creative ideas to keep our kids engaged and active, and a way to continue Montessori-based activities. We encourage you to contribute your ideas and be part of the conversation! It is also a forum to meet other Post Oak families and learn more about our strong school community. If you are not on social media, reach out to us and we can share the links and resources from the Facebook platform with you.
As Maura mentioned in her last letter, Post Oak staff will be working this Monday and Tuesday to test the design and delivery of our distance learning program. The faculty and administration are currently developing plans for continued learning for as long as necessary. Post Oak’s distance learning program begins on Wednesday, March 25. Division directors or teachers will be in touch with all parents and Middle School and High School students with access information before instruction begins on March 25.
We know that this virus can be scary to children, and we encourage you to keep an open dialogue. The National Association of School Psychologists has a helpful guide for communicating with your children to reduce their (and your) anxiety. For example, it is important to remain calm and reassuring, as children will react to and follow your verbal and nonverbal reactions. They also recommend giving your children plenty of affection during this time.
Please be safe, and we look forward to virtually connecting with you as we start this new adventure.
"Education is a work of self-organization in which man adapts himself to the conditions of life."
Dear Post Oak Families,
I write to you as we continue to navigate the ever-changing situation before us—one that today looks different than we might have imagined just a few days ago or even yesterday. The Post Oak team and I remain committed to keeping you updated with the latest information regarding our government’s response and implications for our school, as well as how we will continue serving our families with distance learning and open channels of communication.
The City of Houston and Harris County have put new public directives in place to slow the spread of COVID-19, and Post Oak will do its part and join these efforts. Alongside the major school districts, we will extend the closure of our campuses to students and deliver distance learning through Friday, April 10. It is entirely possible that this will be extended further.
All school activities and events are canceled during our campus closure, and we will be in touch if and when we are able to reschedule.
Our staff will be working Monday, March 23, and Tuesday, March 24, to test the design and delivery of our distance learning program. The faculty and administration are currently developing plans for continued learning for as long as necessary. We are scheduled to begin our distance learning program on Wednesday, March 25.
Division directors or teachers will be in touch with all parents and Middle School and High School students with the information needed to access it before instruction begins on March 25.
Connect with Post Oak Families on Facebook
To help keep our community connected, today we launched The Post Oak School Group on Facebook. We invite you to join us for an interactive dialogue between families and staff in this space. Here we will share local Montessori-friendly activities, events, services, educational programs, and trusted resources. We encourage you to contribute your ideas and be part of the conversation.
Travel Survey reminder
In an effort to remain aware and connected with our community, we ask that any families who have recently traveled or will be traveling out of necessity, please complete our Parent/Student Travel Survey. We appreciate your participation.
Dear Post Oak Families,
This letter is to inform you of our planned school closure in response to the spread of COVID-19. We have been working tirelessly to make careful decisions based on data and facts, and with full awareness of the hardship school closure may cause our students and their families. As Houston responds to what has become a global pandemic, we all must play our part in mitigating the spread of the virus and keep our students, families, and staff members safe.
- The Post Oak School will close beginning Monday, March 16, and will not reopen until Monday, March 30. This includes next week’s childcare for our expanded-year contract families.
- As they do not constitute large gatherings, parent conferences will take place tomorrow, March 13. If you are ill or do not feel comfortable at school, please do not come in for a conference. We are happy to have you join via conference call or to reschedule. Please email your child’s teacher or advisor if you plan to call in for your conference. Childcare during conferences at Bissonnet Campus library is still available.
While the duration and timing of our school closure are intentional, it is entirely possible that this will be extended based on what the spread of COVID-19 looks like over the next couple of weeks.
This is not a decision that we make lightly, nor is it made in response to specific cases of COVID-19 being present in our community. Post Oak continues to have no reported or confirmed cases of students, faculty, or staff with COVID-19 or who have had direct exposure to someone who has been diagnosed with COVID-19. At many points along this journey, we were faced with making choices in which there was no “right” or “wrong” decision. We feel this is the best decision with the information we have now.
If you are traveling over spring break, we encourage families to adhere to CDC recommendations regarding travel to local, national, and international destinations.
To best help the school assess community movement during spring break, we ask that everyone in our community fill out our 2020 Spring Break Travel Survey.
We expect all who travel to a country designated by the CDC as “Alert Level 2” or “Warning Level 3” for COVID-19 to follow the CDC’s 14-day self-quarantine directive upon returning to the United States. This, of course, includes remaining off Post Oak campuses for the 14-day quarantine period.
Please be aware that the CDC has recently included most of Europe in their Level-3 areas, and the Level-2 warning has been extended to travel throughout the rest of the world. The CDC has also published a FAQ about traveling within the United States I encourage you to regularly consult the CDC’s travel resources and not put your family at risk of exposure.
Our distance learning program will begin Wednesday, March 25. This instruction will look different in each grade. Division directors and teachers will be in touch with you and your student directly with all the information needed to access it before instruction begins on March 25. Please make sure you have completed the digital access survey that was distributed yesterday. Students in Middle and High School were directed to take home all that they needed in preparation for distance learning. For the high school, the A-Term course intensives scheduled for March 23–April 2 have been canceled. Distance learning will be the regular high school classes.
Thank you for your continued patience as we navigate this situation. I appreciate your partnership.
With the Houston Livestock Show and Rodeo closing along with several area schools, we are closely monitoring all information and directives from health officials. At the same time, we are preparing for the possibility that our own school must close should it become necessary.
The Post Oak School will remain open for classes as usual through tomorrow, Thursday, and will continue with conferences on Friday, March 13.
Division directors will reach out to all families tomorrow or during spring break with specific information regarding each level’s preparation for instructional continuity through online resources.
Elementary parents and MDC students will all receive short surveys from our IT Office with questions about access to technology and the internet.
As an additional precautionary measure, the Post Oak leadership team is suspending all events through March 29. We are disappointed to announce that these event cancellations include Storytime with Cory, Camp Post Oak, and Book Fair. The safety of our community is our priority, and we will do our best to reschedule these events if possible.
For the latest information and updates, please visit this page on our website.
If you have any questions or concerns, please let me know.
Dear Post Oak Families,
In light of the continued spread of coronavirus (COVID-19), we write to ensure you that the Post Oak leadership team is closely monitoring the situation through a variety of sources, including the Center for Disease Control (CDC) as well as state and local health authorities. Our greatest priority is the health and safety of our school community.
According to the Center for Disease Control (CDC), as well as state and local health authorities, the immediate health risk of COVID-19 to the American public remains low, although the situation is evolving daily. While we do not know if a widespread outbreak in our community will occur, we are reviewing and adapting our campus preparedness plan to be ready if needed. In addition to health and safety practices, we are working on strategies for instructional continuity in the event of extended school closures in the Houston area, and ways to enhance communication to our community. This week, we began a heightened cleaning regimen on both campuses and have suspended all international school travel as precautionary measures.
As I wrote in my last letter, the most important thing we can do now as a school community is to slow the spread of the disease by following the preventative guidance fromThe Center for Disease Control and Prevention. We continue our intentional hygiene practices with the children and are taking the time needed for frequent hand washing, modeling proper covering of sneezing and coughing, and isolating sick children before sending them home. We join the health professionals in encouraging all of you to contact your doctor if anyone in your family becomes ill, to keep ill students and adults at home, and keep yourself informed about updates in our community.
Spring break is upon us and for many of you, that means travel. All who travel to a country designated by the CDC as 'Alert Level 2' or 'Warning Level 3' for COVID-19 must follow the CDC's 14-day self-quarantine directive upon returning to the United States. This, of course, includes remaining off Post Oak campuses for the 14-day quarantine period. While the situation remains dynamic, as of today the CDC has placed five countries on Level 2 or Level 3 travel alerts for COVID-19: China, South Korea, Italy, Iran, and Japan. Families affected are asked to please contact their child’s teacher or advisor and division director. The Post Oak School is committed to supporting its students through any extended absence due to quarantine.
We understand this situation is dynamic and changing rapidly. We will continue to provide updates through email and appreciate your patience as we navigate this situation.
As always, I remain grateful for your partnership.
Head of School
Dear Post Oak Families,
As the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) confirm isolated cases of coronavirus in the United States, we want to reassure you that Post Oak is monitoring the situation and developing response plans. The CDC considers the general American public to be at a low level of risk and the Houston Health Department says the immediate threat to our city and school communities is low. Should the health risk change, we will communicate with you immediately regarding our plan to address an outbreak.
Post Oak’s bigger concern at the moment is the current flu virus here in Houston, which has affected many of our staff and students. With the prevalence of illness this flu season and the possibility of having to adjust to coronavirus spreading, we need to be more vigilant with what we know to be best practices to avoid spreading any infection:
- If your child is sick or exhibiting contagious symptoms such as fever, a productive cough, or excessive nasal drainage, please keep them home from school to avoid spreading illness. Your child must be fever-free for 24 hours (without fever-reducing medicine) before returning to school.
- Remind your child that hands should be washed often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds. At Post Oak, the classrooms with the youngest children have a high-frequency hand washing routine. It may be our older students who need more reminding. (Here’s a handy video from the World Health Organization on handwashing techniques.)
- Avoid touching eyes, nose, and mouth with unwashed hands.
- When coughing or sneezing, cover your mouth and nose, optimally with a tissue or into your elbow. Dispose of tissue immediately and wash hands.
- Avoid close contact with people who are sick.
In situations like these, inaccurate information may cause unnecessary worry and panic. We encourage you to get information from credible sources. You can find resources at the Houston Health Department, CDC, and World Health Organization (WHO) websites.
Post Oak has upcoming student travel in the spring to international destinations that have not been placed on the State Department’s travel advisory list. As of today, these trips are scheduled to happen as planned. We know that this situation is changing daily and we will be prepared to cancel a trip if necessary. All families and students will be kept informed as we get closer to departure dates.
We thank you for partnering with us as we create a healthy environment for our children.
Head of School
- March 12: High School Director email update to students
- March 9: Paleontology A-Term email update
- March 3: High School Director email to international A-Term families
High School Students,
I'm writing to give you a little information about where the school is with respect to the coronavirus/COVID-19. For openers, please review the communications related to coronavirus on the school's website. That page also includes links to websites for government agencies that are keeping the public up to date regarding health information.
At this time, the school has no plans for closure, and we in the High School are finalizing our plans for A-Term to begin on Monday, March 23. However, I suggest that all High School students, staff, and faculty be "backpack ready" at the close of each day school day. This means that when you leave school, you bring home your materials and supplies that you would need if you were notified that school was going to be closed for the next day. This will allow you to be best prepared for that eventuality and support you in completing your schoolwork. This is particularly important to do on Thursday, March 12, as we go into the spring break week. As you leave school on Thursday, make sure you have your books, binders, and other supplies, just in case.
Ms. Joyce has been sending letters to parents over the past couple of weeks. You can find those on the school's website.
If you have questions, ask your advisor or me. We know there is a lot of information flowing around, a lot of unknowns, and a lot of questions. We'll tell you what we know and will work to avoid spreading mis-information.
Stay tuned for more to come. Have a great spring break next week!
Dear Paleo Students and Parents,
Given continued concerns around the coronavirus, we have decided to cancel the paleontology field experience in Seymour, Texas. We know you're disappointed. We are too.
On Tuesday, March 10, I will meet with the paleo students during lunch to begin to create a new plan for the class. We are coordinating with the other canceled trips to determine which classes we will offer. We want to give students as much choice as possible. We're grateful for your patience as we (quickly) put together the new offerings.
If you have any questions, please let me know. Thanks for your understanding and support.
Dear Families of Students Traveling Internationally for A-Term,
As we all have been closely watching the news and reports about the global concerns around the coronavirus (COVID-19), we have been considering the possible impact on our upcoming international travel. The health updates during the past few days, combined with input from the school's legal and insurance resources, have led us to conclude that we must cancel the two upcoming international trips.
This is a huge disappointment to the faculty and students who have been planning for months for these trips. We know there has been great anticipation of these trips since they were announced in the fall. Though canceling the trips is the right thing to do at this time, it's hard to let them go.
The faculty serving as course leaders for the trips will begin immediate collaboration with the students in those courses to design new A-Term course offerings that will roll out on schedule after spring break. We trust and believe in the expertise, creativity, and thoughtfulness of our teams of teachers and students to develop new offerings of engaging activity.
With hope, we are moving forward with new plans while we share in your disappointment about this news.
Please let me or your trip leaders know of any questions you may have.
James Moudry, High School Director
Dear Elementary Parents,
I hope you are all safe and well. As we transition to our distance learning program in the coming days, I encourage your family to sign up for a Houston Public Library card, which provides you with access to the HPL’s vast collection of free ebooks and audiobooks. You can view some of their available digital offerings on the Houston Area Digital Media Catalog or by downloading the Overdrive Libby app.
Parents can register online for a card via MY Link Library Card, or any adult may go to any open HPL location with their photo ID and sign up for one.
Cory Eckert, MLIS, Librarian
- What is coronavirus?
- What is COVID-19?
- What are the symptoms of COVID-19?
- What can I do to protect myself and prevent the spread of disease?
- Should I be tested for COVID-19?
Coronaviruses are a large family of viruses which may cause illness in animals or humans. In humans, several coronaviruses are known to cause respiratory infections ranging from the common cold to more severe diseases such as Middle East Respiratory Syndrome (MERS) and Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS). The most recently discovered coronavirus causes coronavirus disease COVID-19.
The most common symptoms of COVID-19 are fever, tiredness, and dry cough. Some patients may have aches and pains, nasal congestion, runny nose, sore throat or diarrhea. These symptoms are usually mild and begin gradually. Some people become infected but don’t develop any symptoms and don't feel unwell. Most people (about 80%) recover from the disease without needing special treatment. Around 1 out of every 6 people who gets COVID-19 becomes seriously ill and develops difficulty breathing. Older people, and those with underlying medical problems like high blood pressure, heart problems or diabetes, are more likely to develop serious illness. People with fever, cough and difficulty breathing should seek medical attention.
Protection measures for everyone:
Stay aware of the latest information on the COVID-19 outbreak, available on the WHO website and through your national and local public health authority. Many countries around the world have seen cases of COVID-19 and several have seen outbreaks. Authorities in China and some other countries have succeeded in slowing or stopping their outbreaks. However, the situation is unpredictable so check regularly for the latest news.
You can reduce your chances of being infected or spreading COVID-19 by taking some simple precautions:
- Regularly and thoroughly clean your hands with an alcohol-based hand rub or wash them with soap and water. Why? Washing your hands with soap and water or using alcohol-based hand rub kills viruses that may be on your hands.
- Maintain at least 1 metre (3 feet) distance between yourself and anyone who is coughing or sneezing. Why? When someone coughs or sneezes they spray small liquid droplets from their nose or mouth which may contain virus. If you are too close, you can breathe in the droplets, including the COVID-19 virus if the person coughing has the disease.
- Avoid touching eyes, nose and mouth. Why? Hands touch many surfaces and can pick up viruses. Once contaminated, hands can transfer the virus to your eyes, nose or mouth. From there, the virus can enter your body and can make you sick.
- Make sure you, and the people around you, follow good respiratory hygiene. This means covering your mouth and nose with your bent elbow or tissue when you cough or sneeze. Then dispose of the used tissue immediately. Why? Droplets spread virus. By following good respiratory hygiene you protect the people around you from viruses such as cold, flu and COVID-19.
- Stay home if you feel unwell. If you have a fever, cough and difficulty breathing, seek medical attention and call in advance. Follow the directions of your local health authority. Why? National and local authorities will have the most up to date information on the situation in your area. Calling in advance will allow your health care provider to quickly direct you to the right health facility. This will also protect you and help prevent spread of viruses and other infections.
- Keep up to date on the latest COVID-19 hotspots (cities or local areas where COVID-19 is spreading widely). If possible, avoid traveling to places – especially if you are an older person or have diabetes, heart or lung disease. Why? You have a higher chance of catching COVID-19 in one of these areas.
Protection measures for persons who are in or have recently visited (past 14 days) areas where COVID-19 is spreading:
- Follow the guidance outlined above (Protection measures for everyone)
- Self-isolate by staying at home if you begin to feel unwell, even with mild symptoms such as headache, low grade fever (37.3 C or above) and slight runny nose, until you recover. If it is essential for you to have someone bring you supplies or to go out, e.g. to buy food, then wear a mask to avoid infecting other people. Why? Avoiding contact with others and visits to medical facilities will allow these facilities to operate more effectively and help protect you and others from possible COVID-19 and other viruses.
- If you develop fever, cough and difficulty breathing, seek medical advice promptly as this may be due to a respiratory infection or other serious condition. Call in advance and tell your provider of any recent travel or contact with travelers. Why? Calling in advance will allow your health care provider to quickly direct you to the right health facility. This will also help to prevent possible spread of COVID-19 and other viruses.
Call your healthcare professional if you feel sick with fever, cough, or difficulty breathing, and have been in close contact with a person known to have COVID-19, or if you live in or have recently traveled from an area with ongoing spread of COVID-19.
Your healthcare professional will work with your state’s public health department and CDC to determine if you need to be tested for COVID-19.
Event changes and cancellations
- April 1: Screenagers at MDC (cancelled)
- April 2–4: ISAS Arts Festival (cancelled)
- April 2: POPA Work Day (cancelled)
- April 7: Storytime with Cory (cancelled)
- April 8: In the Know! Parent Coffee (cancelled)
- April 8: HS A-Term Presentations (cancelled)