COVID Strategy in the Coming Weeks
As you will find in eNotes below, we begin the process of sign-up for both conferences and for your re-entry testing by our drop-in format following the October break. November 2-3 are dedicated to virtual conferences for students and you’ll sign up for appointments for your meetings with teachers. Starting last year, we coordinated this activity following the October break in order to also provide an opportunity for families to come to school for re-entry testing given the potential risks to the school community of a long vacation. It should be noted that we will make decisions about the remainder of the first week back based on the results of re-entry testing and we also intend to follow a higher frequency of testing for an additional week after we are back as a precautionary measure.
I should hasten to add that we are thoughtful about our recent cases and the increasing numbers being reported daily in Poland (2640 today). Since a few of our cases have also been vaccinated individuals, it confirms our approach to treat vaccinated and unvaccinated the same for the time being. We also recognize that other illnesses with similar symptoms are in the air, including the flu, some strep throat, and seasonal colds. We are not ready to increase from our medium level protocol and are currently recommending the following:
- Be careful about “outside of school” activities. If you are involved in outside activities, we recommend maintaining a mask wearing protocol – even in the case of tutors or private lessons and irrespective of vaccination status of the individuals involved.
- Be thoughtful about travel and mixing with crowds of any size. Again, following hand washing and masking guidelines can help prevent infection and should be followed even if others are not following this guidance around you.
- Be thoughtful about mass transit – we are back to being concernd about buses and any enclosed mixing with general population, as we have suggested previously. While we know it is necessary in some cases, please wear a mask and try to distance from others.
- We can’t advise directly on travel. As we noted earlier in the year, we are leaving this determination to government authorities for control of destination and any quarantine imposed when returning to Poland. We can only share that this is still a risk, even with the protocols and requirements now in place. We worry most about younger children who do not yet have a vaccination option. So, please be careful.
We know that, generally speaking, young children have been generally spared the more severe symptoms associated with this illness generally. However, there is a small statistical probability that some children will become more sick than others and we should continue to be cautious because of that small chance that someone might be more seriously impacted. Our layers of protective mitigation provide a high degree of safety, but nothing is 100%. Therefore, I only suggest caution and that you follow habits that we have forged together.
It is not yet time to relax, so please make sure your kids have comfortable masks to wear each day, plus a backup. Make hand washing a family habit and stick to it – frequently. Watch the distancing and avoid crowds. Travel thoughtfully and follow all protective measures required – and more!
Parent Testing & Test to Stay
During our most recent town hall, we put forward the proposal for implementing two new programs. The first is the long promised parent testing which we announced on Monday via the Weekly update. It involves a link to the Epixpert portal for the purchase of vouchers which can be used towards weekly testing and use of the OK4School application for daily attestation. Further to that communication, we also have stipulations associated with the program. We will limit parent access to the Ground floor of the school for the foreseeable future and parent access to the school will always be through the main entrance. We offer this program primarily for those additional volunteers who want to participate with PTO. This program is available for purchase now and you just need to contact security along with your “green” status on OK4School to enter the building. Mask wearing is required in the building at all times.
The second program, “Test to Stay,” has developed at schools in the U.S. and England and we believe it can be implemented here. One study regarding the program is provided as a backdrop to the program:
This only provides an option for “close contact” individuals allowing them to choose to be tested daily for 7 days and remain in school rather than at home on isolation and exclusion. It has a cost associated with it as follows:
We intend to start this program as an option after the October break. As we discussed in the Town Hall, I’m happy to receive any further comment on this before full implementation.
First, for flu vaccine, there is some difficulty in confirming shipments and availability, but as I was writing this tonight, I got confirmation of pending delivery of the childhood nasal vaccine for 2-18 year olds. We will NOT be ready for our original date of Saturday, October 16. We are now looking at a possible date next week in hopes of offering this before the break. We are at the mercy of high demand and frustrated deliveries, so please be patient with us.
For COVID vaccine, we are looking at dates after the break and will come back with dates and registration for those dates next week. If you are looking for a booster, it may be better to seek support from doctors and clinics right now because each person needs to be qualified in the Polish national system to receive a booster based on the current eligibility standards. Our focus will be on future events for students and we are still hopeful of the vaccine being available for our younger students in the coming weeks.
By the way… Our current vaccination rate (one or more doses) for Upper School students is 80%!