An Important Message to Students from Mr. Abdale

On Monday, I shared the following message to all students. The message was originally prepared by Mr. Abdale for his students. I thought it would be worth sharing with ALL of our students.


March 16, 2020

Dear Students,

I hope this message finds you well and I hope that you take the time to read the entirety of it and visit the links I have shared. I was relieved to hear that our school district will be temporarily closed in an effort to slow the spread of the novel coronavirus, COVID-19 (please read this PopSci article). I was further relieved to learn that all K-12 schools in Nassau County, Suffolk County, and New York City are closing. The decision to close schools is a difficult one to make as it creates a ripple effect of problems throughout a community. The purpose of closing schools, workplaces, etc., while also canceling large-group events, is to limit person-to-person interaction.  This tactic is called “social distancing” and it reduces the opportunity for the virus to jump from one person to another (please read this Washington Post article).

While most of you are as relieved as I am, I know that many of you are celebrating the time off and may even be planning, or have already attended, a party or other gathering. I’m writing to remind you that these are not snow days. This is not a vacation. It is important to recognize that this time is exceptionally stressful and even terrifying for a lot of people. Small businesses will suffer. Some people will be unable to earn money and others will lose their jobs. Some will struggle to find childcare. The most vulnerable within our communities are at elevated risk of serious illness and possible death while medical facilities face the possibility of becoming overwhelmed with patients. The list of conceivable problems resulting from this is a long one. I urge you to take all of this seriously and to practice social distancing for the foreseeable future as recommended by national and international health leadership. Choosing to ignore this recommendation works against the difficult decisions made (and hardships endured) in hopes of slowing the pandemic. The more you are “out and about,” the more you increase your chance of contracting and further spreading the COVID-19 virus to others. 

I recognize that this message might seem dramatic to some, but I ask that you consider the following:

  1. COVID-19 is NOT just like the seasonal flu. At the present time, data suggests that COVID-19…

    • spreads the same way as seasonal flu (primarily oral & respiratory droplets expelled by coughs and sneezes) but is more infectious – probably due to a longer incubation period in which infected people become contagious before they know they are sick. 

    • is more likely to cause serious illness than seasonal flu. This disease is more likely to cause severe pneumonia and potentially permanent lung damage

    • has a higher fatality rate than seasonal flu (flu has a fatality rate of around 0.1%)

      • A precise fatality rate of COVID-19 is difficult to calculate at this time mainly due to the unknown number of undocumented cases. 

  1. People who are at a higher risk of developing serious illness if infected include:

    • Older adults – most severe cases affect people 60+ years of age and most deaths have been of adults 80+ years of age.

    • People with other health issues – heart disease, lung disease, asthma, diabetes, cancer, etc.

    • People who regularly smoke and/or vape 

  1. The goal of social distancing is to slow the spread of the virus in order to…

    • reduce strain on our medical system – if healthcare facilities become overfilled, supplies reduced, and healthcare workers overextended, many people suffering from COVID-19 or other ailments may not be able to get the care they need

    • give scientists more time to learn about this new virus and develop ways to combat it

My intent in writing this letter is not to scare you or to make you panic. If infected with the COVID-19 virus, you will probably recover from it without complication.  My intent is to urge you to consider, not only your personal health but that of others as well. While you will probably be fine if infected, someone to whom you pass the virus may not be. Consider your grandparents. Consider loved ones who are already compromised by other health issues. Consider other people and their loved ones.  Please take this seriously and limit your social interactions (especially if you are feeling even slightly unwell). Avoid crowded places and direct contact with others. Regularly wash your hands and face. Self-care and social distancing can help us to get past this sooner than if we take no personal action at all. Please make responsible decisions to protect yourselves and others.

Wishing you and your loved ones good health,

Mr. Abdale

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