Our community was challenged this week with our first COVID-19 infections and we moved right away to put our plans into action in the face of new challenges. As we move through our first day of “no further cases,” it is too early to reflect comprehensively, but the early insights are beginning to crystalize.
Learning #1 – We did well at school. The methods we used at school, both for protection through masks, distance, and hygiene, are limiting the spread of this virus when it intrudes. If that were not the case, we would have seen more cases yesterday. While we hope for no infection, we are also aware that infection will still emerge. Identifying it quickly is the core of our REACT strategy. What we do here limits the impact. It’s too soon to say for sure, but we seem to be on the right track.
Learning #2 – We need to finish fixing our systems to support this. Our app will get increased focus in the coming days and starting on Monday, we will all default to what the app tells us no matter what. Nothing with the app caused the problems, but it confused some of us and we have to regain your trust in it as a key tool. We’ll have to work hard to get there to earn your faith.
It should be noted that the App has been adjusted for exclusion for symptoms and will now flag a student as NOT OK4School if symptoms are reported and, further, will also flag family members for the same. As announced this morning and yesterday, going forward students who experience any of the following symptoms will remain home for 72 hours AFTER symptoms are gone (without medication).
- Temperature greater than 37.8C
- New or worsening cough
- Shortness of breath
- Significant reduction in sense of taste or smell
- sore throat and/or muscle aches
- fever or chills
- diarrhea or vomiting
- tiredness or weakness
- difficulty swallowing, extreme thirst, or loss of appetite
Learning #3 – We have to let this be our wakeup call about what we are doing outside of school. Many of the cases revolved around parties and gatherings during the weekend – birthday and otherwise. We have other students who are self-isolating because they came in contact with our subject or others not at ASW who were positive carriers. I’ve received many reports of this both directly and indirectly.
Let me put it simply: We just CAN’T do this! If we want a safe community and if we want to avoid future closures, we must avoid the things that you all know well. Let me try to list them:
- Do not attend any gatherings with mixed populations
- Do not let your kids play with others outside of the school community
- Do not join large groups in enclosed settings (concert, etc)
- Do not travel (I know – but that’s the way it is – it’s just not safe)
- Do not frequent restaurants and bars (confirmed by multiple studies as high risk)
- Do not have close contact with High-Risk individuals (close contact = no mask, within 1.5 meters for more than 15 minutes)
- Report ALL symptoms (see above) to school when known
- NEW: if one child is sick with the above symptoms, all children in the family stay home. Contact the school for guidance.
Learning #4 – It is good to be back at school. Despite this challenge, good things were already starting to happen. Kids were getting used to masks. They were washing their hands. They were learning and getting back into the swing of school.
So, I’m still convinced we are doing the right thing in the most prudent way possible. We were challenged by this sequence of events, but in the process, we tested and improved systems, confirmed that our tests work (all have been externally validated), and added to our resilience in times of adversity. Continuing our partnership, now and always!