Dear School Family,
Following yesterday’s meeting of the Task Force, I write to update you on our COVID-19 protocols and policies. We end this week - the sixth in a row - with no new confirmed cases of infection among our students and employees. As you may be aware, additional data for the area shows a steep and continuing decline in confirmed cases, as well as the infection rate. Moreover, there are reports the vaccine for children ages 5-11 will become available in the near future.
Based on the above, we are modifying our face coverings policy, effective Monday, November 8th, at which time they will become ‘recommended but no longer required’ for students and employees, as well as parents who visit our campuses at any time. This means that students need only bring a face covering to school if they want to wear one. We will maintain a stock of face coverings on each campus for any student who wishes to wear one but who forgets to bring it or misplaces it. At some point after the vaccine becomes available for children ages 5-11, our face coverings policy will transition to ‘Optional.’
Between now and November 8, should a family elect to have their child(ren) remove their face covering when seated at their desks, they must complete and return this form to their child’s respective division director(s). The form will no longer be necessary after November 8.
Our policy regarding quarantine will remain in place for the foreseeable future. Namely:
- A student or employee who tests positive should stay home for 10 days following the positive viral test for COVID-19.
- A student or employee who is directly exposed while wearing a face covering will not need to quarantine if they remain asymptomatic.
- A student who is directly exposed while not wearing a face covering may be required to be quarantined for 10 days from the date of exposure, depending on the circumstances. That same individual can take a PCR test on day five and return to school on day seven if the result is Negative.
- A vaccinated individual who is directly exposed does not need to quarantine if they remain asymptomatic. It is recommended they take a PCR test five days post-exposure.
- If any member of a household tests positive, the student or employee must quarantine for 10 days from the date of exposure. If the individual is vaccinated, he or she does not need to be quarantined if they remain asymptomatic.
As we consider how best to keep our community well and maintain in-person learning moving forward, we remind everyone that the single biggest factor influencing the risk of community spread of any infectious disease is parent decision-making when a child or family member is or may be ill. Parents must keep their children away from school anytime they or anyone in their household exhibits any of the following symptoms or if any member of the household has taken a COVID-19 PCR test and is awaiting the result:
- Any time your child has a temperature of 100.4 degrees or higher (without fever reducing medication).
- If your child has no fever but does have a combination of congestion, coughing, and/or sore throat.
- If your child has an upset stomach, diarrhea, or vomiting within a 24-hour period, regardless of cause or frequency.
As an additional reminder, our position regarding COVID-19 vaccination - including when a vaccine becomes available for children ages 5-11 and for the foreseeable future - is that it is not required as a condition of enrollment at St. John’s at this time. It is important to note that COVID-19 vaccination may at some point be added to the Florida Department of Health list of those currently required for children entering, attending, or transferring to Florida public and non-public schools. We have partnered with Tampa General Hospital to facilitate on-site COVID-19 vaccinations (at school) for interested families and will communicate more information in due course.
While hopeful the tide has turned once and for all in the fight against the pandemic, we remain prepared to adapt to any circumstances, including the possibility of managing further individual cases should they arise. As such, we do not anticipate the Task Force needing to continue to meet for the foreseeable future. School leadership will continue to monitor the situation, as always, and will reconvene the Task Force should the need arise. On behalf of the entire school community, I want to express my deep thanks and gratitude to the Task Force members for their time and dedication:
- Dr. Tracy Burton - Board Certified Pediatrician and Fellow of the American Academy of Pediatrics and St. John’s parent
- Mrs. Lauren M. Smith, ARPN - Pediatric Nurse Practitioner and St. John’s parent
- Ms. Sharon Weaver, ARPN - Nurse Practitioner and St. John's School Nurse
- Mrs. Amy Patenaude - Licensed School Psychologist and St. John’s parent
- Dr. John Marston - Board Certified by the American Board of Obstetrics and Gynecology, former St. John’s parent and trustee
- Mrs. Lisa Strauch, Mr. Michael Salzer, and Mrs. Ana Ibanez - Division Directors and experts in childhood education and development. Mr. Salzer and Mrs. Ibanez are also current St. John’s parents.
- Mrs. Jenny Spencer - President of the St. John's Parents' Association and St. John's parent
- Mr. Eric Williams - Chair of the Board of Trustees
- Mr. Hugh Jebson - Head of School
Have a blessed weekend and thank you for sharing your wonderful children with us.
Head of School