Dear Country School Families and Teachers,
The students seemed to have a memorable Friday of Reading Buddies, holiday parties, Owliday, and holding hands together on Burt Family Green while singing “Auld Lang Syne.” It was a triumphant conclusion to what has been a productive fall term.
Temporary Safety Procedures
To assure educational continuity and safety as we return on January 3 from the holiday, we are instituting some temporary safety procedures. These protocols may become more routine if the Omicron variant and other COVID viruses continue to spike in Connecticut and on the shoreline or they may be implemented only for this return from the long holiday. Thank you for your flexibility and, frankly, your understanding that there is a range of opinions in our school community about how best to keep students learning and everyone healthy. I am grateful for your adherence to our protocols and your resilience throughout this ongoing pandemic.
We have been successful as a school community during COVID by adopting a “trusting” approach. That is still our attitude and it requires you thinking of your family first while also thinking of The Country School community as the larger family you also need to protect.
What All Families Need To Do
Please maintain safety procedures
over this school break and monitor for COVID-19 symptoms.
Unvaccinated students and partially vaccinated students are required to get tested for COVID exposure within 72 hours before returning on January 3. Fully vaccinated students are welcomed to get a test but it is not required for returning to campus. The testing will mostly inconvenience our 3 and 4 year old students and those who have not yet received the second vaccine shot. Thank you for your follow-through.
Do not report a negative result from a test unless you have questions.
If any test is positive or Covid symptoms are present or a family prefers to use Distance Learning for as many as 10 days, the student will remain off campus and be accommodated and there will of course be no academic penalties while the student waits to be cleared by a pediatrician.
If you are anxious about your child returning, you are welcomed to forego testing and instead keep your child home for Distance Learning. If you are leaning that way, please notify Beth Coyne
by December 29. We will allow that for only the first 10 days of school in January, with the student resuming in-person learning at the latest on Tuesday, January 18.
Unvaccinated Students and Partially Vaccinated Students
If you cannot get PCR or DETECT results back in time, we will allow Distance Learning for as many as 10 days, with students needing to return to campus on Thursday, January 18, unless they have tested positive more recently.
Students who are doing Distance Learning while waiting for testing results may come to campus to study as soon as their negative test results are in.
If you cannot get a PCR or DETECT test, we trust you to instead take an antigen test (such as BinaxNOW
) on Monday morning, January 3 and again on Wednesday morning, January 5, continuing to monitor symptoms closely until January 12. Note that we are allowing an FDA-approved antigen test this time but are not necessarily committing to antigen tests in the future.
N95 Masks Available
The CDC reports that within school communities a mask worn properly over the nose and mouth is a simple barrier to help prevent respiratory droplets from reaching others. We are therefore making available free of charge N95 masks for students of all ages, which you can pick up from campus at drop-off on Monday, January 3, 2022.
Travel Rules for Unvaccinated and Partially Vaccinated Students
Please review the Travel Policy
on our COVID Hub for information regarding domestic and international travel. Because of the high transmission of the Omicron variant, remember that your child is part of a larger community and we trust you to be mindful when making your decision about returning to campus; know that Distance Learning is an option if needed.
Though our students are too young, we highly encourage all eligible parents, employees, and older siblings to obtain a booster
to improve vaccine effectiveness against COVID-19.
What If My Child Is Identified As a Close Contact?
The likelihood of exposure to someone with COVID-19 is increasing in Connecticut and lack of full vaccination makes students and others more vulnerable, elevating the exposure risk for the entire Country School community. Please notify the Health Office via email if your unvaccinated student is identified as a close contact so that quarantine, testing, and eventual re-entry protocols are clear. Fully vaccinated students who are identified as close contacts do not need to leave campus to quarantine but should get tested 3-5 days after exposure. Regarding household close contacts, please inform the Health Office for testing and quarantine guidance as these cases are unique, given the potential for ongoing exposure of even vaccinated students.
As we enter winter break and collectively prepare for another likely January positivity surge within Connecticut, it is imperative that we all commit to maintaining social distancing and making other choices that sustain the health and educational continuity of our shared community. If warranted, we will initiate additional safety adjustments, and we will communicate them to you in a timely manner.
If you have read this deeply into this long letter, you care about your family’s and this school community’s health. Thank you. If you have questions about which test to take or any of this information, please reach me
, the Health Office
, or Beth Coyne
John D. Fixx
Head of School