It has filled me with joy to see the halls of our schools once again filled with students eager to learn and reconnect with each other after a summer away. As no one needs reminding, though, these are not normal times and we must proceed cautiously as we strive to return to something resembling a normal school environment. That is why we’re also bringing back many of the familiar COVID mitigation strategies we implemented last year, including mask wearing, social distancing, and frequent hand washing/sanitizing. This is all part of our commitment to keeping students, staff, and families safe as the year gets underway.
Another element of our mitigation strategy from last year that is returning this fall is regular pooled testing. As I described in a previous communication, this process will now be known as Routine COVID Safety Checks, and will be more closely monitored and managed by our state-assigned partners at the CIC. Being able to locate and contain COVID infections in our community is essential to preventing disease spread, so I ask that all parents sign up their children to participate in these Safety Checks. I have been impressed with the response so far, as at my last check we have over 2,200 students signed up.
A new tool in our strategy is the ability to track employee COVID vaccination rates across the district. Thanks to cooperation from the SEA and Nurses’ associations, respectively, we can collect and share information on staff vaccinations, with the upload to our COVID Data Dashboard coming in about a week. For the very small number of non-union staff, we will be requiring vaccination and include the data in the dashboard. According to the CDC, COVID vaccines are both safe and effective, and we will continue to encourage all staff members to get vaccinated to protect themselves, their students, and their colleagues.
We have had a tremendous start to the school year. If we all work together to implement these mitigation measures, some new and some familiar, we can look forward to many happy and healthy months ahead.