Dear Families,

We all know how great it felt to be back on campus, whether for two days or four days. The joyful sound of students' voices permeated 163 Gale Road as students traveled in their cohorts with their friends, together, here on campus.

The transition to remote learning has gone well, and tech support calls to Mr. Wootton are lessening each day.

You are now aware that we have two adult and two student positive COVID-19 cases in the Kindergarten. To help all of you understand our decision-making process, I would like to share with you the steps we have taken.
 
On Wednesday, September 9th, a teacher in the Kindergarten cohort went to see our medical consultant in the nurse's office, and after being assessed, it was clear our teacher had a fever. Following our protocols, the teacher was sent home, the Kindergarten remained segregated in its cohort, and the whole class, along with all of their siblings from different cohorts, were sent home at the close of day, with the understanding they would move into remote learning for two weeks. They began that remote learning in earnest on Thursday morning.
 
On Saturday, September 12th, I received word from the teacher in the Kindergarten classroom that their test result came back positive for COVID-19. We immediately connected with our medical consultant, and then contacted the Williamstown Board of Health. Next, we shared this information with our board, faculty, Kindergarten families, and the whole Pine Cobble Community. The school followed our protocols for contact tracing and coordinated with local agencies. 
 
From that point forward, all families in the Kindergarten and individuals identified as exposed during contact tracing, were told to remain in quarantine for two weeks from the date of exposure, which was the 9th of September, and we informed all families to get tested per request of the board of health. We asked all families to keep us informed if symptoms developed and of COVID test results.  Additionally, any other individuals showing symptoms were advised to be tested and inform us of symptoms as well as test results. 
Initially, we were uncertain as to the origination or scope of exposure.  For that reason, with the full agreement of the Board of Directors' Executive Committee and medical advice, we decided the whole school would transition to remote learning for two weeks, beginning September 14, 2020.
On Tuesday, September 15, a second member of the Kindergarten faculty reported a positive COVID-19 test result to me, and we learned of a student in Kindergarten who tested positive. Wednesday, we learned of a second Kindergarten student who tested positive.
At this point, it appears the Kindergarten cohort was the point of exposure.  If that remains the case, we are optimistic that because the entire Kindergarten class and their siblings went home on Wednesday, the risk of exposure to other students outside of that cohort and their siblings was minimal.  Nevertheless, during the period we are in remote learning, I ask each parent to monitor their child, follow medical advice and notify me of any positive test.
We are reinforcing with all teachers and staff our protocols and the necessity that they, their colleagues, and students strictly adhere to and enforce them. We will decide if any additional steps and actions need to be taken. 
We are planning testing for the entire school late next week, once again by the Broad Institute, a Harvard/MIT Laboratory, with the plan, at this point, to return to school on Tuesday, the 29th of September. I will keep you posted on the times for the testing. More information to follow on day and timing..
 
The Broad Institute tests will be given to all students and faculty/staff who have not tested positive in the last two weeks, and the tests will be sent to Boston for analysis, as they were when we tested in late August. Those who tested positive for COVID-19 after September 9, 2020, will not need to be tested again and will be able to return to school, as per guidance of our medical advisors, after being four days symptom free.Those who have tested positive for COVID-19 are not advised to be tested again because they may test positive again for some time after they are no longer contagious.
      
Early next week, our Board of Trustees is planning a Zoom session for the Pine Cobble community. The panel will include a retired physician on our Board, Art Turton, an educational researcher and consultant on our Board, Ruben Puentedura, and a COVID-19 expert from Southern Vermont Medical Center, Dr. Trey Dobson. We hope you'll come and listen to our panel and bring your questions. More information on the day and time of that Zoom session to follow.
 
This community has always been known for its resilience and its ability to pull together in challenging times. This is certainly such a time, and we look forward to resuming in-person classes as soon as we can. Please know when we resume, we will continue our daily symptom check before arrival, our cohort model, mask wearing at all grade levels all day, inside or outside, with brief, designated breaks with proper distancing, conscientious handwashing, and six foot social distancing in classroom settings, indoors or outdoors.
 
Through this challenging period, I know we will all support our Kindergarten teachers and families. Please don't hesitate to be in touch with me. I know I have spoken to or exchanged emails with just about every family in the past two weeks, but please know how much I enjoy those opportunities to connect with you and build the rapport that I know you and your children are building with your child's teachers.
 
Sincerely,

Sue