by Bernie Noe, head of school
The following email was sent to Lakeside community members on Sunday, Jan. 16.
I am writing to explain some important changes we are making in how we work with all of you on our COVID-19 response. Please read this entire letter carefully, and reread it, if necessary, as these changes take effect immediately.
As you all know, school is open for in-person learning and the teachers are doing a great job teaching their classes. When I walk around the school each day, it seems almost entirely normal except for the masks everyone is wearing. Our primary goal right now is to keep school open safely for all of the students. It is great that our students can attend classes remotely when necessary but, as everyone fully recognizes, we do not build community when we are not together on campus; and the prolonged isolation that comes with attending classes remotely often adversely affects the overall well-being of our students.
With the advent of the omicron variant, we have seen a spike in the number of cases among both students and employees. While we can still operate the school very safely, the increased number of cases are affecting the ability of school staff to keep up with the volume of email from parents and guardians. It is also not possible to offer individualized service to all who desire it.
Given these circumstances, the following changes are going into effect now.
- I ask that you all take 30 minutes and carefully read the health and safety webpage and the updates posted on that page. We will not be answering emails when the relevant information is provided there. We will not answer any rude or abusive emails.
- We will no longer be able to respond to every parent or guardian email regarding the nuances of our COVID policies and procedures and how they might apply to one’s unique personal circumstances. All the information we have is on our website. Do not take it personally when we do not get back to you.
- If you do need to email the school about something related to COVID, please send your message to firstname.lastname@example.org; this will help us keep track of what is emailed in. We will be triaging the emails we answer. Please do not email to the personal inboxes of Bryan Smith or other Lakeside administrators.
- We will no longer be able to respond to questions about whether we think a student or family member has COVID. Please consult your medical provider for that information. We also cannot give out test results for families who need them for their student to participate in non-Lakeside activities.
- We will no longer do contact tracing. Trace was a great tool for pre-vaccination COVID, but it is no longer necessary as 99% of our students and employees are vaccinated. Only unvaccinated individuals need to quarantine after close contact with a COVID-positive person. We will continue to alert families with unvaccinated students if someone in their classes tests positive.
- Because of the high levels of infection in our region and the transmissibility of the omicron variant, everyone should assume that they have been in contact or close contact with someone who has COVID. Remember, close contacts and contacts who are fully vaccinated do not need to quarantine.
- Given the contagiousness of the omicron variant, we ask all Lakeside families to be more conservative in their interactions with others until this wave passes. I asked the same of the students, in writing, last week. If we don’t all take this seriously and do our part, we will end up going remote for some period of time. It is really that simple.
- We cannot provide antigen tests for every person who has a cold or sore throat or thinks they might be feeling ill. Our supply of tests is limited and will be used in situations such as when a community member develops COVID symptoms during the school day and needs to determine whether to stay on campus or go home; if a community member is quarantining from a positive COVID result and cannot find a home test after their five-day quarantine period has ended; and to comply with WIAA testing rules.
- Only students who have tested positive for COVID and are well enough to engage in classes receive remote learning plans. Students who are sick should focus on resting and regaining their health. Students who have tested negative for COVID but choose not to come to campus are not eligible for a remote learning plan and will need to catch up on work once they return to school.
Thank you for your understanding, everyone! Amazing education is happening for our students, despite the challenges of the moment. We continue to follow all safety protocols and run as safe a school as is possible during a pandemic, with strong mitigation strategies and the most rigorous surveillance testing of any school. We are doing all in our power to continue that amazing education. Thank you for doing your part!