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An Episcopal, co-educational 100% boarding school in Middletown, Delaware for grades 9 – 12

Updates from Our First Week Back in Session

Dear St. Andrew’s Family,
 
Happy new year! It is another beautiful snowy day at St. Andrew’s, and I wanted to provide you with a few updates as we close out the first week of school in 2022. Your children on campus are doing very well and getting back in the swing of things—the classrooms are full of activity, the Dining Hall has been humming each night, and the snowball fights are frequent (a few snow photos are attached to the bottom of this letter for your enjoyment). Omicron has once again shifted the landscape of COVID for schools, and for the country as a whole. We are working to navigate these shifts and adjust our protocols accordingly, while also remaining mindful of the emerging reports about the detriments to student learning, development, and wellbeing caused by COVID restrictions in schools over the past two years. In short, it is good to be back in session, and to see the fruits of our mutual efforts to ensure that your children have the most normal educational experience possible in spite of the continuing challenges of COVID-19. 
 
Here are a few updates from the past four days on campus:

  • Pre-arrival testing and arrival testing did what we expected: they reduced the prevalence of COVID on our campus following the return from Winter Break. We still have students off campus due to a combination of illness and travel delays; currently about 80 percent of our students are in residence with us.
  • Wednesday was our weekly testing day through third-party testing provider Quidel (this service is provided to schools by the state of Delaware). We had five student positives on Wednesday, which was consistent with our expectations given that students had traveled and returned from all over the world the day before. Per our policies, those students are isolating. 
  • We will test all students again tomorrow (Saturday) and next Wednesday with Quidel. Please be prepared to retrieve your student should they test positive on either of these dates. We will continue to surveillance test our community each Wednesday going forward, and we will also test any symptomatic student.
  • We continue to do contact tracing for positive cases, and our goal is to conclude tracing and communication to close contacts within 24 to 48 hours of a positive test. The CDC recently updated their guidance on close contacts in schools, and we are following that guidance. The current guidance can be summarized as follows:
    • 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 arrangements for five days and be extra-careful about masking.
  • Vaccinations remain by far our best chance to avoid infection and severe illness from COVID. As you know, we are operating a booster clinic on campus on January 12. Due to pharmacy staffing shortages, we are not sure exactly how many boost doses we will be able to provide, but we will boost as many eligible students as we can that day. Thank you to so many of you for having filled out the permission forms necessary for your child to be boosted. Since our last communication about boosters, eligibility has changed:
    • If you child is more than five months from their second dose, they are now eligible for a booster, and;
    • All children over age 12 are now eligible.
  • If you would like to have your child boosted at our on-campus clinic on January 12, please fill out this form first, then fill out this consent form and email it to healthcenter@standrews-de.org.

Two other notes: First, I know many of you are eager to know if we will proceed with the winter Long Weekend or not. The COVID Monitoring and Response Team and I meet every morning at 7:30 AM. As we move through Saturday’s and next Wednesday’s tests, we will make a decision about the Long Weekend that attempts to balance the needs of families, the mental health of students, and the importance of preserving and continuing with our academic program here on campus. In either case, we will be prepared to have significant numbers of students in residence on campus for the Long Weekend, knowing that many families will prefer their children not travel and enjoy a peaceful and restorative weekend here at St. Andrew’s.

Second, you may have noticed that the St. Andrew’s website was partially or fully inoperable throughout this week. This is due to the fact that our website provider is currently experiencing a broad outage, which is also impacting thousands of other schools worldwide. As of today, the website is generally operational, but we are still waiting to regain functionality in some areas. 

We could not “do St. Andrew’s” to the extent that we are without your ongoing partnership. I am deeply grateful to all of you, students, parents, faculty, and staff alike, for the work you do each day to make this school year possible. 

With warmest wishes, 
Joy McGrath ’92
Daniel T. Roach, Jr. Head of School