December 30, 2021
I'm writing on the cusp of the new year to share the most recent version of our 2021-2022 Health and Safety Plan and offer some information about what will help our community navigate this next stage of our pandemic experience most successfully.
While we continue to pay close attention to emerging scientific understanding and guidance from organizations like the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), American Academy of Pediatrics, and Children's Hospital of Philadelphia, remember that our mitigation measures continue to most closely follow the guidance of the Chester County Health Department (CCHD). Likewise, please also know that all of our decisions continue to be guided by our commitment to our dual priorities of community health and in-person learning.
As of today, we anticipate returning to in-person learning as scheduled on Tuesday, January 4. In our first weeks back, we will limit large in-person gatherings, continue our community wide testing, and double down on the layered mitigation strategies which have served us well this year (fresh air and ample air exchange, physical distancing when practical and pedagogically appropriate, masking, vaccination, etc.). As positive COVID cases occur in our community–and they certainly will–we will continue to contact trace and require isolation and quarantine in accordance with the updated guidance from the CCHD and CDC (see pages 5 and 6 of the Health and Safety Plan). Furthermore, in addition to requiring vaccination of students ages 12 and up and all employees, we are also now requiring that those individuals who are eligible to receive their vaccine booster do so as soon as possible. (As always, please notify the Health Center in your division (Lower and Middle School here or Upper School here) promptly with any update to your student's vaccination status.)
We all want to learn together in person, and we all depend on each other's choices to give this the best chance of happening. We have all made our own individual and family choices this holiday season, and we will continue to do so. I strongly encourage you not only to make choices that reduce your likelihood of COVID exposure, but also to recognize how very present the omicron variant is in our midst. Therefore, whatever choices we each make, it is critical that we are responsive to even the mildest symptoms in ourselves and our children and keep them home until they have received a negative test result. Unfortunately, "just a little runny nose" doesn't exist right now until a negative test confirms it. I know this is inconvenient. I also know that our daily choices have a tremendous impact on our entire community.
Two years in, I suspect we may be near the beginning of the end of this pandemic experience. Still, we have a ways to go, and it is likely to get messier before it gets better. On a related note, in case a transition to remote learning becomes necessary in the coming days or weeks, our dedicated faculty will be spending much of Monday, January 3 readying themselves for such a potential pivot. May that preparation prove unnecessary! Meanwhile, on behalf of my colleagues, thank you all for your support, flexibility, and goodwill as we continue to find our way through this together.