Today we celebrated Rosh Hodesh Adar II (the beginning of the Jewish month of Adar II) and we are getting ready to celebrate Purim. Seeing our children enjoy the fun and festivities of Pajama Day is already a clear sign of the joy and celebration that continues to nurture and sustain our community.
As we anticipated, beginning Monday, March 7, mask-wearing will be optional indoors and outdoors at school.
We expect there will be staff and students who will continue to choose to wear masks in school. It is important that everyone is supported in their personal choices regarding mask-wearing. Our faculty had classroom conversations this past week about this transition. We ask parents to discuss this change with their children including sharing your expectations for your children regarding whether or not they will wear a mask in school.
Here are helpful tips from Christopher D. Watson, Psy.D., ABPP for talking to your children:
- Examine your own feelings on the topic before you talk to your child. If you are anxious, this will raise your child’s anxiety. If you see ending masking as a “win”, keep in mind that you may unintentionally minimize any worried feelings your child may have.
- Proactively start a conversation with your child in an open ended way like, “Starting Monday, your school won’t require a mask anymore. What do you think about that?” This will give you an in to ask follow up questions and really get to know your child’s thoughts/feelings before you need to respond. Adults often over plan for what to say in awkward conversations only to find out that they are thinking WAY more deeply about the matter than the child is.
- Reassure your child that changes in policies happen because of new and important information from some really smart people who are helping them stay safe.
- Explain that some kids (maybe even them) may still choose to wear masks because they may need them to feel safe…and that is ok. Each person has a right to do whatever they feel is best.
- Please emphasize the need for kindness and grace with their peers.
- Open the door for more conversation if there is anything that your child becomes concerned about as they return to school.
Please review protocols that align with the updated NYS and NYC school requirements:
Booster dose required for ages 12+ to be considered fully vaccinated
Everyone ages 12+ should get a booster dose at least five months after the last dose in their primary series.
- If eligible, this booster is required for 6th-8th grade students to participate in overnight trips this spring.
- Until students ages 12+ are fully vaccinated, they are required to quarantine for five days following close contact exposure to someone with COVID.
Required Masking - Masking will be required in these specific circumstances:
If a student or staff member tests positive for COVID: Masking continues to be required indoors and outdoors at school upon return from isolation during days 6 through 10 after COVID-19 infection.
Masking, regardless of vaccination status, is required for 10 days after a known exposure (if you are within 6 feet for 15 minutes or longer and unmasked.)
Students in a classroom with someone who tests positive will be considered close contacts. All students in that class will be required to wear masks until we receive a negative test result on the following weekly Monday test. This will mitigate COVID spread in the classroom.
If there is a positive case of a household member; students can attend school if they provide a negative daily rapid test on days 1-5 in the morning prior to school and they will be required to wear a mask for 10 days following exposure.
Weekly testing at school will continue as it remains a public health strategy for surveillance to identify infected individuals quickly so that they can isolate and avoid spreading COVID further.
After exposure to a positive case (within 6 feet for 15 minutes or longer and unmasked) students can attend school, but must test on day 5 (rapid test accepted.)
If there is a positive case of a household member; students can attend school if they take a daily rapid test on days 1-5 after the last exposure.
Exception: Individuals with lab-confirmed COVID within the past three months do not need to get tested unless they develop symptoms.
Required Isolation and Quarantine
Those who test positive for COVID, are required to stay home for five days and isolate themselves from others in their home. Day 0 is counted as the date of the positive COVID test or the date symptoms began. Day 1 is the first full day after symptoms developed or the test specimen was collected.
End isolation after five full days if are fever-free for 24 hours (without the use of fever-reducing medication) and symptoms are resolved.
If symptoms continue, isolate for a full 10 days.
- No additional tests are required to return to school.
Daily Hand Hygiene
We will practice regular hand washing and hand sanitizing in school to help keep students and staff healthy from all communicable diseases and infections.
Surveillance for Illness
Symptomatic individuals, regardless of vaccination status or recent infection, should stay home
Communication of Positive Cases and Exposure
Weekly testing results will be shared with parents.
Cases of exposure to an individual with COVID will be reported to parents.
Parent Visitors to School
All visitors are required to be fully vaccinated (this includes booster dose.)
- Parents and all visitors are required to wear a mask indoors. We will revisit this protocol after Passover break.
We are grateful to you, our community, for embracing the safety measures designed to keep our community healthy and our students in school. While we work towards a further return to normalcy, we will continue to monitor the health of our community and local data and keep our lines of communication with parents open.
Thank you for your support, patience, and trust.