COVID updates

COVID+updates

Kate Beckler and Nora Wildman

Over the summer, the school made three major COVID-19 policy changes, Middle Division (MD) and Upper Division (UD) Nurse DeAnna Cooper said.

1. Students five and older, who are eligible, must have one booster dose of either the Pfizer or Moderna COVID vaccine before the first day of school, in accordance with CDC guidelines. A second booster dose is recommended for community members who are either 50 years or older or immunocompromised.

At the end of last year, all students aged 11 or older were required by the school to receive one booster dose of a COVID vaccine.

2. If a student tests positive for COVID, they are required to stay home for five days to isolate themselves during which they will not have access to online school. They must also wear a mask to school for days six through ten after being diagnosed with the virus.

At the end of last year, students who tested positive were allowed remote instruction for their five-day quarantine.

3. The school will no longer administer COVID tests. Individuals should test themselves if they are symptomatic or a close contact of someone who tested positive. With rapid tests more readily available this year, students can have a supply at home and test themselves if symptoms develop before coming to campus.  

Last school year, approximately one third all students, staff, and faculty were tested each week. 

Note: The below policy has not changed.

If a student is in close contact with someone who tested positive for COVID, they must wear a mask to school for the ten days after the contact but will not have to quarantine. Parents will be notified of close contacts through email.

The responsibility of testing students for COVID is shifting away from the school for the 2022-2023 school year, Cooper said. These changes allow families to monitor students’ health at home.

As COVID precautions modify, so should the mindsets of the student body, Head of UD Jessica Levenstein said. “We are at a moment when COVID is becoming just one of any number of viruses that could affect our school community.”

Staying home due to COVID will be similar to when students get the flu or strep throat, Levenstein said. The only difference between how diseases are treated is the mandatory five day quarantine, she said. 

“In making this decision, we’ve returned being out sick — and the day to day functioning in our classrooms — to a routine that everyone is accustomed to and one that is certainly less disruptive for the student at home and the teacher and students in the classroom,” Head of School Tom Kelly wrote. Students should be sleeping to recover from an illness as opposed to being visibly sick on zoom, Kelly wrote.

The goal will be to rest, recover, and come back to school when you’re feeling better, rather than try to attend class either in person or remotely and keep up with work while feeling sick,” Levenstein said. While this requirement might feel difficult in some cases, the five day quarantine will give students enough time to recover so that when they return, they are ready to go to school, she said. 

The new changes in COVID policy will make the school feel more like the community it was before the pandemic, Camila Florencio (11) said. “Basically, we are returning back to normal from four years ago, and I am happy about that.”

Kelly hopes the decision to eliminate remote instruction and other COVID protocols from last year will improve the quality of life for students, he wrote. “While there may be an outlier in need of more prescriptive attention because of a pre-existing medical concern, we’re looking forward to a more traditional year, one with less procedures and protocols that prove to be an unfortunate source of anxiety or disruption for many.”