October 9, 2020

Dear Pine Cobble Families,

Thank you to everyone for your continued support as we provide in-person and remote learning  in this complicated environment. It has been so lovely to have a full week of on-campus learning, with beautiful weather and happy voices out my window all week long. I feel so fortunate to see you each morning as you pull up the driveway, and many of you again at lower school pick up. The sheer joy on your children's faces when they see you pull up at day's end never gets old for me and truly warms my heart. 

Recognizing that we are all faced with an avalanche of information around COVID-19, I have been trying to streamline and simplify how and when I share important updates and details around policies with our community. As we head into a long weekend, I thought it would be important to provide reminders/updates on three key areas: our travel policy, the causes for transitioning to remote learning, and our sick policy. These policies have been developed and refined with input from Dr. Trey Dobson, our health expert; as well as our registered nurse, Jordanne Wotkowicz; and members of our board with expertise in relevant areas. The information below reflects our firm belief that providing our community with clear guidelines offers us the best possible opportunity to maintain safe school operations.


Travel Policy:

To minimize potential exposure to COVID-19, Pine Cobble has had in place a travel policy that limits in-person classes for families who have traveled to higher-risk states per MA travel guidelines and higher-risk counties within MA defined lower-risk states. Given the highly dynamic nature of COVID-19 positivity rate, it is clear that traveling creates a risk to our community and could limit in-person learning for both individual children/families and our entire school. As always, we discourage travel outside of our four sending counties (Berkshire, Bennington, Rensselaer, Washington). We rely on voluntary disclosure and appreciate your cooperation.  
  • For travel within MA low risk states: any travel/commute to a county with a 0 - 6.0 risk index will receive a yellow bar and require a temperature check by our nurse upon arrival to school for five days following travel.
  • For travel within MA low risk states: any travel/commute to a county with a 6.1 or higher risk index, we will require either a two week quarantine or a seven day quarantine followed by a negative PCR test to return to school.
  • For travel/commute to a MA defined restricted state: 2-week quarantine is required or seven day quarantine followed by a negative PCR test to return to school.
You can find where any county in the country is on its risk level here. Please check this site before deciding to travel. And, here is the state list of lower-risk states.


Transition to remote learning based on environmental factors: 

While we are all firmly invested in an in-person learning environment, Pine Cobble and our families are equally concerned about the health of our students and community. Therefore, even if there is no specific exposure to COVID-19 risk within the Pine Cobble community, we are carefully monitoring the surrounding environment for overall risk.

As such, if the COVID Risk index averaged across our four sending counties (Berkshire, Bennington, Rensselaer, and Washington) exceeds 4/100,000 for 72 hours or longer, Pine Cobble will transition to remote learning and will be in consultation with the Department of Public Health while such a decision is finalized. If a single county of our sending counties spikes above 4, it might also be necessary for part or all of the student body to go remote. Return to in-person instruction will likewise require that the COVID Risk index average for our four sending counties fall below 4, and that trends indicate that it will continue to remain there for one week or longer. 

This situation is one of inherent uncertainty, and we are carefully monitoring the data in close consultation with our experts to assure that we make thoughtful decisions consistent with this policy.


Sick-policy:

We are currently updating our detailed flow-chart on individual student and family sick policies to reflect input from Nurse Jordanne and Dr. Dobson. In the interim, we thought it would be important to reinforce our basic policy:

Students who have any symptoms of COVID-19 (see below) must remain home from school and only return 24 hours after resolution of symptoms without medication and having obtained either:
  • a doctor's note
  • a negative COVID-19 test
  • or having completed 14 days of quarantine
Students must quarantine for 14-days:
  • If they have had direct exposure to an individual who has tested positive for COVID-19, but have no symptoms 
  • If they have tested positive for COVID-19, regardless of their symptoms 

We recognize that there are many variables involved in determining if it is safe for your child to come to school. Please know that our school nurse, Jordanne Wotkowicz j.wotkowicz@pinecobble.org, is always available to answer questions. We encourage you to reach out to her in ADVANCE of bringing your child to school with any questions that could impact your child being able to return/stay at school for in-person learning.

While we are working hard to stay consistent, our policies and approach may continue to evolve over time as both our knowledge around COVID-19 evolves and the circumstances/environment around us changes. 

On the horizon is our annual Pumpkin Day, weekly pillar assemblies, as well as architects and farmers to speak to our students, from their place of employment, about their passion for the work they do. While so much feels different in this COVID-19 year, our students and teachers are getting into a lovely rhythm, class by class, and are, undoubtedly, relishing their time together. 

Thank you again for your patience and support.

Take good care,

Sue

 
COVID-19 Symptom List:
 
Fever (100.0° Fahrenheit or higher), chills, or shaking chills (CDC has lowered the temperature from 100.4 to 100.0)
Cough (not due to other known cause, such as chronic cough)
Difficulty breathing or shortness of breath
New loss of taste or smell
Sore throat
Headache, when in combination with other symptoms
Muscle aches or body aches
Nausea, vomiting, or diarrhea
Fatigue, when in combination with other symptoms
Nasal congestion or runny nose (not due to other known causes, such as allergies) when in combination with other symptoms