On Friday, I went about a not particularly scientific but quite interesting analysis of our indoor spaces in the AMP Building.
All grades are on campus on Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday, and Friday.
So it has now happened. For the first time since we returned from Winter Break, we had had a positive test result from our weekly testing, and we now have a group of students and a teacher quarantining. Given our conversations with the family in the past day, it would not be surprising to find out that this was a false positive. But whether it is a false positive or not, it gives us the opportunity to discuss some of what this means for us.
Life at Green Acres has been going smoothly, with the exception of the weather. This year brought new meaning to “dry January,” as we had few days of precipitation and little worry about snow, sleet, or ice. February seems to be making up for the shortfall. For Rebecca and me, this has made for a challenging situation, as we are forced to make weather decisions that we previously relied on Montgomery County to make when they were not teaching and learning remotely. We are doing our best to make the safest decisions for our community, understanding that being at school is important but being safe is more important, and acknowledging that learning from home is not ideal but is sometimes necessary. In the mornings, we are in communication with staff members from different parts of the county to understand what the conditions are, and we are using our best judgment to determine what is safe.
We use regular on-campus PCR testing for students to more accurately evaluate our community transmission landscape. The frequency of that testing depends on community transmission levels in Montgomery County and will be communicated as the factors and frequency change.
In an August 25 communication titled "COVID-19 Vaccination, Testing & General Safety Protocols," we communicated the following protocol that guides our decision about testing frequency:
For the first three weeks of the school year, we will conduct weekly PCR tests; after three weeks, we will pivot to every-other-week testing, unless there is a positive case. Similarly, if the community spread metric rises above 14 cases per day per 100,000 residents, we will revert to weekly testing (14 cases per 100,000 residents is the CDC threshold for “high”).
Because of the current county metrics, we will be testing on a weekly basis for the foreseeable future, rather than shifting to biweekly testing after our third week. We are providing on-campus testing for our students (see PMC waiver blurb below), but you are welcome to choose to test with your own provider. If you do choose to test with your own provider, be sure to email your results to Nova before Sunday at noon each week. Vaccinated students are not required to test, but are welcome to participate in on-campus testing if desired.
- Vaccination leads to milder cases of COVID-19 and inhibits (though it doesn’t prevent) infection and spread of the virus;
- Unvaccinated individuals are as at risk now as much as ever, and the level of risk depends on the metrics and mitigations in place;
- People can contract the virus even when metrics are low and mitigations are strong, but both low metrics and strong, consistent mitigations significantly influence the level of risk for a community;
- The Delta Variant is much more contagious, and thus more dangerous, than previous variations of the virus; this influences community spread and the vaccination rate for herd immunity;
- The risk of infection indoors and outdoors are fundamentally different;
- The risk of spread via surfaces is low, but not non-existent; this is largely an air-borne virus;
- Mitigations make the community safer, especially when there are still unvaccinated community members.
Below, we've listed the circumstances under which Green Acres offers remote (at-home) learning during the 2021–2022 school year. We offer instruction in a dual platform mode (teaching learners at home and learners at school simultaneously) when:
- A class (or a significant part of a class) needs to quarantine in accordance with Montgomery County Health Department guidelines.
- Metrics for Return to Virtual Instruction
- Magnus App Download Instructions
- Community Handbook Addendum v4
- Management of a COVID-19 Event at Green Acres School v2
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