Confluence CEO responds to coronavirus concerns

March 12, 2020


Alissa Eckert, MS, Dan Higgins, MAMS

This illustration, created at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), reveals ultrastructural morphology exhibited by coronaviruses. Note the spikes that adorn the outer surface of the virus, which impart the look of a corona surrounding the virion, when viewed electron microscopically. A novel coronavirus, named Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2), was identified as the cause of an outbreak of respiratory illness first detected in Wuhan, China in 2019. The illness caused by this virus has been named coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19).

UPDATE AS OF MARCH 19: “We hope you are all holding up well and trying to enjoy some semblance of spring break during these strange and unprecedented times. Throughout this public health emergency and school closure I will be updating the community when there is new or clarified information to share. You will be receiving official information from Confluence very soon but I wanted to prep you for our plans next week,” Head of School Ashley Olson stated via email.

The email also contained detailed procedures for the next two weeks where students will be online learning to continue practicing social distancing.

Building: The school building is minimally open to staff and faculty with the majority of admin and office staff working from home and teachers out on break. Teachers will be prepping virtual learning materials to be ready next week.

“We are working hard to deep clean and fully sanitize the building. Everything will be sanitized this week and then again at the end of next week,” Olson stated via email.

The building will be closed to everyone March 30 through the end of the closure April 3, to ensure surfaces remain sanitized until students return.

Meal Distribution: Confluence is working closely with SLPS to ensure that all St. Louis City and Charter students continue to have access to weekday lunch and breakfast. Starting Monday, March 23, lunch and breakfast for the next day will be distributed via drive-through pick up at Old North, CPA, and South City – Meramac in addition to all SLPS schools. Students can pick up meals from 8 a.m.-12 p.m. at the location most convenient to them – no ID or roster checking, food is distributed until it is gone. There will be no meal distribution at GCAA.

Virtual Learning:  At GCAA learning during these two weeks will all be internet based. Teachers will reach out to their classes with instructions on the platforms they will be using. If teachers are using google classroom or other similar platforms there are parent links all guardians will receive so they can keep up with the work expected of their child. Some teachers may choose email so please be sure to check student email addresses. Reach out to admin or staff if students have not heard from all of their teachers in one way or another by end of day on Tuesday, March 24.

Chromebook Distribution: On Tuesday, March 24 and Wednesday, March 25 from 8 a.m.-12 p.m. Chromebooks will be distributed (one per student) and chargers (one per family) out of the main lobby of GCAA to any student who needs a device to access the internet and their virtual learning assignments. Students will also receive information about free internet services from Charter should they not have internet services at home.

“Devices can be picked up by a parent or student but please do not come to the school if you or any family members are experiencing coronavirus symptoms – reach out and we will work on a solution. Whoever picks up the Chromebook will sign a technology agreement covering damage and return as you will still be responsible for the safety of the device. Again, let us know if you are not able to come to the school due to illness or known exposure and we will work on an accommodation to get you a device if you are in need,” Olson stated via email.

Instruments/Art supplies: If you have an instrument stored at school staff will attempt to get that to you when you pick up a device. Students or family members will not be allowed into the school beyond the main lobby but admin will work with families to retrieve essential tools for learning.

Events: The April 2 Cabaret concert is canceled. Admin and staff will be working on ways to get videos of solo work so the work and voices of GCAA students can still be shared. The April 9 art show will be postponed and it’s unclear if there will be a new date in May or if virtual options will be explored instead. The April 16 dance show will be pushed back a week or two to give students time to fully prepare pieces. The Spring musical will take place in a concert style rather than a full production, this will happen as scheduled at the end of April. Any events after April 26 will happen as scheduled until further notice. This is all contingent upon school resuming on April 6

Missouri DESE (Department of Elementary and Secondary Education) canceled all statewide assessments which include EOC and MAP testing.

“There is a time and a place for statewide required assessments and now is not the time. Effective immediately, Missouri will be cancelling statewide required assessments for this school year,” said Missouri Commissioner of Education Margie Vandeven.

The AP program will be providing free resources and is investing in the development of at home test options. Additionally, the majority of the AP exams will have two testing dates this year in order to accommodate different student needs. Visit the AP site for more details.

“We miss you! We love you! We cannot wait to see you again (hopefully) soon! We are experiencing something that is new to all of us and will shape this young generation in ways currently unknown – it will shape the world. In times of crisis, the arts are a refuge for us all whether it be as a tool to express feelings or manage stress so keep making and consuming art! My favorite thing about GCAA is the vibrant and accepting community – we are in this together and now more than ever we must lean on each other (but  . . . through the internet or 6 feet apart). Please stay home to reduce your exposure and risk of passing the virus on to others more vulnerable than yourself,” Olson stated via email.

Hang in there, take care of each other, and consume art in all its’ digitally accessible forms!

— Olson stated.

Contact high school principal Dr. Shane Hopper at [email protected] for any further questions regarding the order of operations during this time. 

UPDATE AS OF MARCH 15: In response to the guidance of local health officials, Confluence Charter Schools will be temporarily closing for social distancing beginning Wednesday, March 18 and ending Friday, April 3. Confluence made this decision based on the closures of 26 major school districts in St. Louis and will continue monitoring the developments regarding COVID-19.

“The decision to close our school districts was extremely difficult, made in consultation with all area Superintendents and out of abundance and caution for our families,” high school principal Dr. Shane Hopper stated via email. “We know that closing our schools will have a significant impact on our families, but we also believe that strong, urgent action must be taken to prevent the spread of this disease and to protect lives.”

Spring break was set to end March 23 but with the extension all students will have an additional two weeks away. Confluence Academies intend to update families as administrative decisions are made.

“We will be communicating to you again via email, our website, social media and other media outlets regarding community resources to help our students and families through this period,” Confluence Academies stated via email. “The health and safety of our students is our highest priority and we will continue to work in collaboration with public health officials, other government officials. We will do our part to help slow the spread of COVID-19 and protect the health of our students, their families and our staff.”


On March 9, CEO of Confluence Academies Charter Schools Dr. Candice Carter-Oliver responded to concerns about the novel coronavirus (COVID-19) via district-wide email. Concerns are especially high in St. Louis due to the recent reports of a positive case in St. Louis County

“The situation with COVID-19 continues to evolve and we are reaching out to our partners at St. Louis Public Schools, the Missouri Charter Public School Association, the Missouri Department of Health and Senior Services (DHSS) and the St. Louis Department of Health to ensure we are enacting best practices regarding both the seasonal flu and COVID-19,” Dr. Carter Oliver wrote. 

In connection with the quarantined family in St. Louis, Villa Duchesne and Oak Hill closed their campuses temporarily to prevent further spreading of the disease after the father and sister of the patient attended a school dance.

Saint Louis University’s campus, 1.2 miles from GCAA, will be closing and converting to online courses temporarily as well. For more closings and cancelations visit here.

“You may have heard that schools have been closing in some areas outside St. Louis in an effort to slow the spread of this disease. At this time, we have no reason to believe that closing our schools is necessary, given the nature of the outbreak in our region,” Dr. Carter-Oliver wrote. 

Ways to stay healthy:

  • Washing your hands often with soap and warm water. If those materials aren’t available alcohol-based hand sanitizer should be used.
  • Avoid touching your eyes, nose, or mouth with unwashed hands.
  • Stay home when you are sick.
  • Cover your cough or sneeze and throw used tissue in the trash.

Administrators encourage parents not to send children to school if they are ill. It’s advised for them to stay home until they are without fever (below 100℉) and show no symptoms for 24 hours without medication. 

“Our staff is prepared to support students and families who may be absent because of illness,” Dr. Carter-Oliver wrote.

Included in the email were trusted sites to provide more information; St. Louis Department of Health, Missouri DHSS, and U.S. Center for Disease Control and Prevention. 

Confluence will be reviewing their policies as updates on the disease occur. 


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