Dear School Family,
I hope this letter finds you well and enjoying the holidays! The purpose of this communication is to update you on our plans for the children returning to school on January 4. From the start, our goal has been keeping the school community as safe as circumstances allow, while also keeping school open, preserving ‘in-person’ learning, and providing ‘distance learning’ to quarantined students. Since the onset of the pandemic in early 2020, we have effectively responded to a total of around three dozen confirmed cases among students and employees. Thankfully, none of those cases has involved serious complications and the infected recovered quickly and fully. Furthermore, vaccination is now widely available; 95% of our employees are fully vaccinated, as are a significant number of our students.
We continue to learn a great deal about running a school during a pandemic. As the pandemic evolves, so must our response. For some children, the wearing of a face covering presents significant challenges, while other children appear to manage without issue. What is true is that the universal, mandated wearing of face coverings creates an entirely different dynamic at school. The last confirmed case of COVID-19 among students or employees before Christmas break was in early-September. Since then, St. John’s transitioned to a policy of face coverings ‘recommended but not universally required.’
We will continue with face coverings ‘recommended but not universally required’ for students and employees on January 4 with the following temporary modification: for the month of January, all lower and middle division students will be required to wear a face covering for any large indoor gathering. The most obvious examples of this requirement are lower and middle division chapels. They will not be required while eating in the lunchroom. Additionally, for the month of January, all visitors to our buildings will be required to wear a face covering, regardless of vaccination status. We have also made some important updates to our protocols for responding to positive cases and quarantine following direct exposure. These can be found HERE.
All COVID-19 policies remain under constant review and subject to change. Given the nature of the holidays (family gatherings and travel) and out-of-school activities and behaviors, it should be expected we will experience positive cases in January. Your children’s teachers are well-practiced and highly effective at providing ‘distance learning’ to any quarantined student or students and remain ready to do so. Perhaps the most important lesson we have learned so far is that the single most significant factor impacting potential spread and widespread disruption to in-person learning is the decision parents make about sending or not sending their child to school when the child or any member of the immediate household is feeling unwell and symptomatic. As we return from the Christmas break, your diligence and support remain as essential as ever.
We look forward to seeing your children back at school on January 4, and to the continuation of a highly successful school year.
Head of School