On February 2, groundhog Punxsutawney Phil predicted six more weeks of winter, which is starting to look accurate. Even as we brace for more winter weather this week, Middle and Upper School students continue to provide positive feedback about the revamped hybrid schedule. Also, Lower School students and teachers clearly appreciate more opportunities to be together on campus. In the next week or two, we will send out another survey to students, faculty, parents, and guardians to continue our assessment of how things are going and consider any additional adjustments that might be needed. Beginning on March 8, we plan to further extend on-campus instruction for students in Kindergarten through 5th grade; Chris Appleby and Dominic Redd will reach out to families with more details.
Every week, we learn more about the science behind COVID-19, revised health and safety recommendations, and updates on testing and the vaccines. As a result, I have some information to share with you:
Travel and Quarantine Adjustment: We ask that anyone traveling outside of the District, Maryland, or Virginia quarantine for FIVE days after returning from travel and until being tested and receiving a negative result. Alternatively, quarantine after such travel should last for 10 days if not getting a test.
This requirement is waived for anyone who has received their full dosage of the vaccine and completed the recommended two-week waiting period after the second shot.
Sharing of Materials: Whenever feasible, we will continue to promote individual use of equipment; however, in certain instances, we have decided to allow sharing of various materials and equipment when doing so enhances the educational options. This will include students sharing balls in PE classes, selecting books from book bins, participating in labs in science classes (wearing gloves), and sharing items during certain community programming in the older grades. Use of playground structures will also be permitted with routine sanitizing of these structures. We will continue to ensure the recommended protocols for washing or sanitizing hands before and after activities, including before and after lunch.
Pooled Testing: We have adopted new protocols for weekly pooled testing. Faculty are being tested this week; pooled testing of students will roll out next week. Yesterday (Tuesday, February 16), you should have received a communication from Head Nurse Alison Goradia and Director of Finance and Operations Trey Holloway with preliminary information. Parents, guardians, and students will receive more detailed information about the testing process closer to their testing start date. Please be sure to sign the consent form in Magnus Health before 5:00 p.m. tomorrow so that we can pre-register all students in a timely fashion.
Vaccinations: We have been working with the Association of Independent Schools of Greater Washington (AISGW), our local independent school association, to ensure continued vaccination of our faculty through coordination with the DC Office of the State Superintendent of Education and Department of Health. We look forward to the day that we can report that all have received their shots.
Spring Break: We have not yet made a definitive decision about whether to have all classes be virtual during the week of our return from Spring Break. As a reminder, Lower School students resume classes on Tuesday, March 30. Middle and Upper School teachers have a comment writing day scheduled for this same Tuesday, so classes will resume for the 5th through 12th grades on Wednesday, March 31.
As always, if you have questions or concerns, please feel free to reach out to me.
We hope you will be able to join us at two upcoming school events: The Upper School Musical, The Theory of Relativity, will premiere online at 7:00 p.m. this Sunday, February 21, and Maret’s 45th Annual Scholarship Auction is on February 27, with a Hamilton-theme of “History Has Its Eyes on Us.”