December 29, 2021
I hope you are enjoying the holiday season. I am writing with some important health and safety updates. This includes information relating to a safe post-break return to school and some revisions to the school’s guidelines regarding isolation and quarantine periods.
We have faced periodic positive COVID-19 cases throughout the school year, but these cases were largely limited, and the impact on school and activities was minimal. As cases are increasing locally and nationwide over the past two weeks, we now see a significant increase in positive cases in our school community. Since vacation began, we have had 23 students test positive for COVID-19 (20 Upper School, two Middle School, and one Lower School). While this increase in cases is concerning, our goals as a school remain the same as they have throughout the pandemic:
- Protect the health and safety of our community
- Keep our students in school, in-person
- Keep our students engaged in athletics and activities
As a precaution against the current surge of positive cases and the potential post-holiday surge, we are going to delay the start of school to at least Wednesday, January 5 to allow for our community to get tested. (The actual return date will be contingent on the results of a specially scheduled pooled testing on Monday, January 3. If the results are received by Tuesday evening we will begin classes and activities on Wednesday, January 5.) All students (grades K-PG), faculty, and staff must be tested for COVID-19 prior to returning to school. There are several options for testing:
The easiest and best option is to participate in a specially scheduled pooled testing on Monday, January 3. Drive-thru testing will be available on campus from 7:30-9:00 a.m. Monday morning.
Lower School families will drive through at the Lower School lot
- 7:30-8:15 Grades K-2
- 8:15-9:00 Grades 3-4
Middle School students will drive through the Middle School lot
- 7:30-8:15 Grades 5-6
- 8:15-9:00 Grades 7-8
Upper School students will drive through at Travis Roy Arena
- 7:30-8:15 Grades 9-10
- 8:15-9:00 Grades 11-PG
If you have a siblings in multiple divisions, you may all go to the younger division. Times are designed to help with traffic flow, but you may alter the time for your child if convenient.
If you are unable to come for pooled testing or don’t wish to participate in pooled testing, there are a few additional options:
- Provide proof of a negative COVID-19 test, administered no earlier than Sunday, January 2nd. Acceptable tests are PCR or NAAT Tests. Rapid at-home tests are not an acceptable form of testing.
- We will conduct pooled testing again on Thursday, January 6. If you are unable to obtain a test prior to Thursday, you may come to school to participate in pooled testing. Students will need to remain remote until the results of pooled testing are received.
- Without a negative test result, students will need to participate in remote learning and wait to return to school on Tuesday, January 18 following the post-holiday surge.
- Those who have tested positive in the last 14 days need to be symptom-free prior to returning to school. There will be an algorithm on the FAQ coming in the next day or two to help families and students determine the plan ahead.
Testing and a delayed return to classes on campus will allow the school to identify any post-holiday infections in an effort to prevent the risk of further spread to the community. This should also decrease the need for additional contact tracing throughout the school. We believe this brief delay in returning to school provides significant benefits in mitigating the risk of continued spread within our school community, and should ultimately allow our students to safely return to the classroom, activities, and athletics. Of course, no action is foolproof. After returning to school, we will continue with regular weekly pooled testing and ask our families to continue to self-screen and stay home when sick.
Finally, based on updated CDC guidance and updated research on infectious periods and the behavior of the current variants, we are in the process of revising some of our school guidelines for isolation and quarantine periods for vaccinated students and adults. This updated guidance will be shared prior to our return to school and is designed to reduce isolation and quarantine times in certain cases.
Throughout the pandemic, our faculty, staff, and students have collectively done an exceptional job of working together to mitigate the impact of the pandemic on NYA’s in-person learning and activities. I am so grateful for everyone’s efforts and am hopeful that the current impact on the NYA community will be short lived. By continuing to work together, we will best position ourselves to keep our students engaged and in school, which is so critical to their health and development.
I look forward to seeing everyone back in school soon and wish you all a Happy and Safe New Year.
Head of School