As we come to the end of the second week of our January session, I wanted to provide you with a further update on where we are in terms of COVID-19 on campus and our related protocols.
First, you should know that your children are truly rising to the occasion and doing their part to prevent the spread of this very contagious, but milder, variant of COVID at St. Andrew’s. The omicron variant is circulating everywhere in schools across the country, and I am so proud of our students’ willingness to adhere to protocols, self-report symptoms, and generally “opt in” and work together to come through this surge successfully as a school. Thank you, too, for all you have done over the past few weeks, too: getting your child boosted and tested over Winter Break; picking your children up for off-campus isolation at a moment’s notice; and so much more. I am grateful for all of it!
Second, here is an update on testing over the past two weeks. (A reminder that weekly testing numbers are posted here by Saturday morning of each week.)
- 5 students tested positive last Wednesday, January 5 and 1 more student tested positive later in the week;
- 2 students tested positive in the all-student campus testing on Saturday, January 8;
- 3 students tested positive between Sunday and Tuesday of this week;
- 3 more students tested positive during Wednesday testing yesterday (January 12)
If a student is a close contact of someone who tested positive, the Health Center will notify the student directly, whether or not they need to quarantine. A reminder of current CDC quarantine guidance:
- Students 18 and older who have not yet received a booster must quarantine if their primary series of vaccines was more than six months ago.
- Students up to and including age 17 who have had their primary vaccination series are not required to quarantine. However, we are asking these students, if they are a close contact, to modify their dining.
The above positive test numbers are relatively low within the context of a highly transmissible variant. The low positivity rate on campus is, for one thing, evidence that our protocols and layers of mitigation are working. These testing numbers also allow us to make the following decisions about school operations over the next few weeks:
- We will resume athletic competition, but expect that individual cancellations will continue, either due to positive COVID cases, or the specific competition environment of a given game/meet/match. We will continue not to have spectators at sporting events. We will carefully track any COVID cases that emerge from sports competition and this will influence future decision-making regarding athletics.
- Our low positivity rate is evidence that we have been able to reduce and slow transmission on campus. This is sometimes referred to as the creation of a “bubble.” Therefore, the winter Long Weekend will still take place, but it will be a closed weekend on campus. It is vital that students have the rest and downtime provided by our seasonal Long Weekends. It is also true that going through another period of high COVID incidence and subsequent transmission on campus will be extremely disruptive to students, faculty, staff, and could dramatically disrupt our educational program until the Spring Recess. In addition, our testing supplies are low enough that we would be unable to perform our normal return testing protocol—in a situation where, due to the brevity of Long Weekend, pre-arrival testing also would add no value. Students will be “off” beginning next Friday, January 21 at noon through Tuesday, January 25, but will not be permitted to leave campus except in the event of an emergency (our normal policy for closed weekends). If this creates an undue hardship for your family, please contact Will Robinson (firstname.lastname@example.org).
Next week, we will resume in-person, all-masked School Meeting and Chapel (both will take place in Engelhard), and we will continue with cafeteria-style meals with four per table through at least the end of next week. As you know, we will continue with mid-year exams next week as planned, with modifications (click here for more details). All other Red Status protocols remain in place.
Thank you again for all you are doing to keep our community healthy and together!
With warmest wishes,