Dear Saklan Families,
Yesterday, we welcomed back our 6th-grade students, and we look forward to bringing in our 7th and 8th-grade students next week. By the end of next week, we will have a full house. It has been quite a lot of additional work for our teachers and administrative team to get everything in place. Each day, we adjust and improve our systems- and things get a little easier and a little smoother. Many parents have commented on the significant positive change they have seen in their children as they have returned to school. They are chatty, engaged in learning, and walk with purpose. This makes all the hard work worth it.
This short journey has not been without its challenges. As you know, we have had two community members who had COVID-19 while on campus. In both cases, because we had our safety protocols in place, and everyone followed them, we did not witness any virus spread on campus. Of course, we would prefer it if the virus never made its way to campus, but that is unrealistic. However, that does bring me to my next point. Keeping our staff and children safe is a shared responsibility. Behaviors by ALL community members off campus contribute significantly to our safety on campus.
Expectations and Responsibilities
This August, we started bringing students on to campus for Saklan Connect visits, and we asked families to sign an Expectations and Responsibilities document. This document states that each family has a responsibility towards others to adjust our behavior and comply with practices that keep us all safe. This applies to behavior on and off campus. While the document itself does not get into all the specifics of off-campus behavior, I believe it is essential to list the main ones.
To reduce the risk for all of us, we need our community to commit to the following:
Wear a face covering and keep six feet of distance when encountering people outside of your household.
Avoid large gatherings and situations in which others are not practicing physical distancing and wearing masks.
Do not spend more than 15 minutes indoors with those outside your household who are unmasked and/or within a six-foot distance.
If your household is involved in a “social bubble*,” follow best practices and continue to adhere to overall safety practices to the greatest extent possible.
Carpooling is not suggested with members outside your family or social bubble*.
Notify the school and follow state and local regulations to self-quarantine if a family member or close contact tests positive for COVID-19.
Participate in any mandated contact tracing, and share information with contact tracers.
Participate in testing when directed to do so by the school or by the local or state health department.
*Per the CCHS website, A social bubble is a stable group of 12 people or less who have collectively agreed to limit their in-person social activities to only each other for at least three weeks.This means counting every person in each household. For example, two households of four are a bubble of eight. Even if just the kids meet up, the bubble includes all household members because of the pooled risk.
This weekend is Halloween and we know how much families look forward to celebrating together. Again, we refer to the above Expectations and Responsibilities that all families have signed. The County has recommended that no more than three families gather together (masked, outside and distanced) to mitigate any risk involved in this year’s celebrations.
We ask that if you do attend a larger event this weekend, your child refrains from coming to school in person until they have taken a COVID-19 test 5-7 days after the event (Thursday, November 5th at the earliest) and received a negative result.
With the upcoming holidays, and the surge of infections in other parts of the country, this policy is subject to change.
In my conversations with the Contra Costa Health Services, their guidance is that greater risk comes from the events people attend rather than the travel itself. In other words, flying to Iowa to visit family is considered low risk when compared to being inside with extended family members without masking or distancing, (which is not to say flying does not carry a risk).
If your family engages in any of the following activities that place you at a higher risk of contracting COVID-19 your child should refrain from coming to school in person until they have taken a COVID-19 test (5-7 days after your return) and received a negative result.
Travel to areas with a high prevalence of COVID-19.
You interact for more than 15 minutes within six feet of someone outside your household or social bubble* when you or the other people around you were not wearing a face covering at all times.
You are indoors without a mask for more than 15 minutes with those outside your household or stable bubble* -this includes on a plane, train, or bus, and either you or those around you are not wearing face coverings at all times.
You interact for more than 15 minutes within six feet of someone—either with or without a face covering—who is experiencing symptoms of COVID-19 or who begins to experience symptoms of COVID-19 within 48 hours of your interaction with them.
You attend a gathering outside your household or social bubble* that is: a) not outdoors, b) not in keeping with a strict six feet distancing between household units, and c) without masks if ever closer than six feet.
Teachers bear additional stress being around children this year in trying to keep them distanced and safe. Self-care is of utmost importance for us to continue to have a successful school year. We have hired additional personnel to help cover classes in the event that a teacher needs a personal day or is not feeling well. We are being purposeful in our support of teacher wellness. Furthermore, we expect teachers to follow the same protocols that you follow as a family, which means that if a teacher is even feeling slightly ill, we have them stay home. There will be days when your child’s teacher may be out and you may wonder if he/she is out due to COVID-19. We understand that this is a natural curiosity, and of course it is difficult to not have all of the information that you would like to have. That said, we need to adhere to privacy rights and are not able to share health details. We understand how frustrating that feels. In the case of a COVID-19 infection, we communicate that information as soon as we have it. Otherwise, please trust that your child is safe.
Our staff and faculty will do their second round of COVID-19 testing on campus this coming Tuesday, November 3rd. We are committed to doing regular testing for all faculty and staff in order to monitor ourselves and continue best safety practices. We are currently investigating options to have school wide testing (students, faculty and staff) on a regular basis. This is still a new area with labs and medical facilities not quite ready to handle the load of schools doing regular testing.
We know that asking for your support with the demands of COVID-19 prevention may seem at times to be unnecessary or unfair. Wearing masks, maintaining social distance, and keeping away from large gatherings are expectations that we are applying to ourselves as well; we don’t take your efforts for granted. We know that morning pre screenings, COVID-19 testing, and occasionally having to keep your child home are inconvenient. However, our ability to teach in person relies on the cumulative effort of these vital, daily personal decisions as well as our communal effort and commitment to a safe, vibrant learning environment. Thank you so much for your understanding and cooperation.
P.S. Apologies for the long letter, but thank you for taking the time to read it.