July 30, 2021
We look forward to seeing everyone in September. After well over a year, it is a relief to get back to many of the activities we enjoy and to interact more with others. However, we are still in the midst of a pandemic and will continue to make decisions in the interest of the health and safety of our community. A major goal is to develop policies that will mitigate the impact of positive cases on our students and to avoid interruptions of in-person learning.
The Maine State CDC and Maine DOE no longer issue direct guidance to schools, rather Maine schools have been directed to follow the policies of the U.S. CDC guidance for COVID-19 prevention in schools. As you may know, the U.S. CDC recently revised these guidelines and issued additional guidance this week.
Since April, 2020, NYA’s Health and Safety Committee has met multiple times to review guidelines and establish NYA policies. The work of this committee continues as we adjust to shifting guidance from state and federal agencies. Because guidance is frequently changing, NYA safety protocols have not yet been finalized for September. The committee will review these new guidelines in the coming days and any subsequent guidelines or revisions that may be established. In the coming weeks, we will update you with our plans for the opening of school. The following plans are a few we are ready to share:
- Screening: We will no longer conduct morning wellness checks for students. Rather, we request that students “self-screen” prior to school. If they exhibit any symptoms, they should remain home.
- Frequent hand washing is one of the best ways to mitigate the spread of the virus. We will continue to promote good hand washing habits, and hand sanitizer stations will still be available throughout campus.
- We will continue to use proper ventilation systems throughout campus.
- While we no longer have stringent occupancy restrictions, and will have more free flowing student traffic throughout campus, we will still encourage distancing whenever possible.
- We are required to follow the CDC protocols for contact tracing and quarantining. These policies have changed significantly and we are instituting policies to minimize the need for quarantining for close contacts.
The following are of note:
- Vaccinations: Vaccination for eligible staff and students is the most effective way to limit the spread of the virus and return operations to normal as soon as possible. NYA does not require students or faculty/staff to be vaccinated, but we strongly encourage those eligible to be vaccinated. If you have questions, I encourage you to consult with your physician. Vaccinations not only help mitigate the spread of the virus, but vaccinated individuals are exempt from quarantine when identified as a close contact. Information on vaccines may be found here.
- Pooled Testing: NYA will participate in the pooled testing program as offered by the Maine DOE. The pooled testing program is another way to limit the spread of COVID and limit the need for quarantining for those participating in the program. This program will help ensure that our students, faculty, and staff can return and remain in school for the entirety of the school year. Participants in pooled testing will have further protections from the need to quarantine if deemed a close contact. More information on pooled testing will be forthcoming from NYA Health Services Coordinator, Ashley Moody, along with a consent form for families.
- Masks: As many of you are aware, additional recommendations were made this week on the use of masks in schools. We will review this guidance and communicate clear mask policies for indoor and outdoor activities in advance of the school year. Final decisions on all health and safety protocols will be made in accordance with the most up-to-date CDC guidelines, and we will communicate these before the school year begins.
We will continue to be in touch with updates throughout the month of August. Don’t hesitate to reach out with questions regarding the start of the school year. We look forward to seeing you all in September.
Head of School