Jon Zurfluh

COVID Planning for After the Break

We've been working on our plan for COVID mitigation after spring break in recent days while evaluating the results of our recent changes.  We have seen a minimal impact from our incremental relaxation so far and feel like we are ready to continue down this path a bit further.  Thank you for your patience as we apply government decisions to a decidedly more vulnerable setting with greater expectations for moving cautiously and thoughtfully toward what that data increasingly supports.

At the core, we believe, based on multiple sources of advice, that we are moving slowly from a pandemic to an endemic phase of the virus.  There are many sources to this opinion and it is becoming clearer based on reduced hospitalization and continued study.

As such, the school will move from the original strategy of Stop/Protect/React to a lower level mitigation strategy of Protect/Identify/React.  The original goal remains - to keep us all in school.  But, under the original model, our goal was to avoid infection while under the new structure, the primary goal is to reduce and respond to infection.  It maintains many of our layers but reserves some of them more as mitigation measures rather than as daily expectations.  This also shifts some responsibility to the individual in determining how they manage risk.  We still have to be concerned about the potential for more serious illness. So, in some areas, we will still take a moderate approach until there is greater clarity in Europe and around the world.  We have to maintain a readiness to be more restrictive if conditions demand.

Right after the break, we will be slightly more restrictive until we complete a week of precautionary testing.  Testing is an area where we are able to adjust when the situation demands.  With many travelling next week, all agree that we need to be prudent with testing following the break.  While we have not scheduled a re-entry testing day, we have developed a schedule for testing the entire school population in the first 48-hours of our return and a second time that same week to be sure we identify any cases as early as possible.  Since we did this same strategy recently for our long weekend, this is the choice for the upcoming break as well.  All of our other changes, listed below, will start on May 2nd as follows:

  • Mask optional for all staff and students on all days unless identified as part of a group or cohort where masking is applied as a mitigation strategy for an identified case.
  • Additional relaxation of cohort isolation.  Maintain cohort areas, but allow students to cross cohorts more freely, particularly in shared spaces
  • Move all health services back to its original location and re-open transit for Upper School students to this area
  • Expand access to events through the Test-to-Attend program.  More details on this after the break.
  • Outdoor events access for parents without testing.
  • Relax seating limitations and distancing
  • Allow access to parents for limited areas and times.  More details on this after the break.
  • Cafeteria expand open hours to 8a to 3:30p and continued relaxation of cohort mixing - primarily at Upper School
  • Continue attestation with some changes to survey
  • Reduce temperature checking at the main entrance by excluding staff students using OK4School.

All of the above may be modified or retracted if the situation demands based on the results of testing in the week following the break or in the case where information suggests we should increase protocols due to new concerns (e.g., community spread, a new variant, etc.).  This would be based, as usual, on medical advice and Crisis Team consideration.

Parking Lot & Pick-up

It's always good at this time of year to remind everyone about expectations in the parking lot.  Please remember that yellow zones are not parking areas.  You may not leave your vehicle for more than 30 seconds and you must move your vehicle if directed by staff at any time.  That means that you must always be within a line of sight to your vehicle and move it as quickly as possible.

I should hasten to mention, that it is polite and good etiquette in a parking lot to move out of the yellow zone and circle the parking lot to allow others to pick up their students if your child is delayed for any reason.  The intent of the yellow zones is to maintain the flow of traffic.  While some degree of waiting in your vehicle with the engine off is generally tolerated, we would expect you to move to a parking space if your child is delayed in exiting the building.  In this regard, our security or other staff may ask you to move and circle the parking lot to open a space for others and you should obey their instructions at all times.  This is critically important in the mornings near the elementary entrance as busses are also using this area to drop children off for school. No car may remain in this yellow area for more than 30 seconds.  Staff are on duty for this purpose to monitor your children at the entrance to the building or playground as appropriate to their age.  Kiss-n-Go was always meant to be done AT the vehicle to avoid any delay.

All of the above has safety implications and we should add that you must control your speed in the parking lot at all times to less than 10km/h.  Stop for crosswalks and pedestrians.  Always watch carefully for children emerging from between cars.  You must follow the directions of security and other staff at all times and I would also ask for courtesy in this regard as well.

In the case of concerns about any vehicle, the school always reserves the right to deny entrance to any vehicle that is unwilling to follow our directions or protocols.  When an infraction occurs, our security coordinator will notify you and this will serve as a warning that future incidents may require suspension of your access privileges. 

Thanks to all who help us maintain a smooth flow each day, both morning and afternoon.  We are generally very efficient and I appreciate your efforts in this regard!