Dear Wornick Community,
This communication will include information about the evolving health and safety landscape, Thanksgiving and Winter Break, revised air travel policy, our testing program, and results from our most recent survey.
Health & Safety Guidance
The last few weeks have seen a sharp increase in COVID-19 positive cases, hospitalizations, and fatalities. While the Bay Area had stayed relatively isolated, in the past few weeks we have seen a dramatic rise in COVID-19 positive cases leading to a number of state and local announcements including a sharp shift in the tiered status of most counties in the state. Our Health and Safety Committee has been in constant conversation to determine how to keep our community safe amidst shifts in the COVID-19 landscape. As we approach Thanksgiving and Winter Breaks, I wanted to take a moment to review health and safety protocols and announce some changes especially in light of recent recommendations and local changes. Our objective remains the same, to provide an outstanding educational experience for all of our learners while continuing to do the utmost to protect the most vulnerable in our community.
On Monday, San Mateo was placed in the red tier while most California counties were placed directly in the most restrictive purple tier. While our Wornick community follows strict on campus guidelines, we are aware that gatherings between different households may occur during upcoming breaks. The 10 Bay Area Counties have explicitly defined gatherings that are permissible and include the following recommendations:
- No more than three households
- Gatherings should happen outdoors
- Families should remain distanced during the gathering
- Gatherings should be limited to two hours
- Multiple gatherings with different stable cohorts are not allowed
If you plan to attend or host a gathering in addition to your family unit, please review the California Department of Public Health mandatory requirements here. If you travel by air or if you feel that you attended a gathering that does not follow the Bay Area Counties' Holiday Recommendations, or may have exposed your family, please have your student stay home for fourteen days before returning to on campus learning.
New California Air Travel Advisory & 14 Day Quarantine
On October 9th, our Health and Safety Committee moved to offer an expedited option to reduce the time away from in person learning for travelers and offered a seven day period followed by a negative test. At the end of last week, California issued a new travel advisory advising travelers to self quarantine for fourteen days and avoid all non essential travel. After reviewing the guidance and consulting with county officials Wornick's Health and Safety Committee moved to remove the expedited option and fall in line with the state guidelines. If you or someone in your household travels, you can only return to on-campus learning after fourteen days away and if you and your household are symptom free. We realize this is a shift from our previous communications and may impact your travel plans. However, our discussions with county officials and recent local and state level decisions make it clear that we are in a dynamic situation and travel poses a significant risk as rates of infection continue to rise across the country.
Thanksgiving, Winter Break, and Remote Learning
In October, after conducting a survey, our Health and Safety Committee decided to not impose a period of remote learning after Thanksgiving and to impose a four day remote learning period after winter break followed by a baseline schoolwide test. We did this to give families notice and time to plan their travel and winter break plans. However, the health landscape has changed. While we are not planning a period of remote learning after Thanksgiving break, we need students to learn remotely for fourteen days if they:
- Attend a gathering that does not follow the Bay Area Holiday Recommendations
- If they or someone in their household travels by plane
We are not currently adjusting the plan for winter break and remote learning. We are still requiring a test to be completed between January 2nd and 8th and we are still planning to offer only remote learning between January 5th to 8th. However, the change to the travel policy now means that if you want to return to in-person instruction by January 11th, you need to return to the Bay Area by December 28th. If your student or someone in their household returns to the Bay Area by flight after the 28th, your student needs to avoid in-person instruction until 14 days after the return flight while having no symptoms. We also want to be clear that the situation is fluid and we will need to continue to assess our return to in-person instruction. Our Health and Safety Committee will continue to convene leading up to winter break and will follow expert advice and official recommendations in determining what a return to instruction after winter break looks like.
Our school has been conducting weekly tests for our staff for three months and is three weeks into our new student testing program. We wanted to remind everyone that tests are not an indicator that the individual being tested does not have COVID-19. The goal of our testing program is to compliment our health and safety protocols by identifying possible asymptomatic cases. We need to continue closely following our health and safety protocols which require families to keep students home if anyone in the home is experiencing symptoms until they receive clearance from email@example.com. Tests are not 100% accurate and accurate tests only capture the subject's status for the moment they are tested. Additionally, the subject may have the virus in the early stage but the test cannot detect infection until high levels of the virus accumulate. For symptomatic cases, incubation period is 3-14 days, but symptoms don't appear until 4-5 days after exposure. A contagious person may be contagious 48-72 hours before experiencing symptoms or experience no symptoms at all. The following article contains an important clarification about the difference between PCR and Antigen tests and their accuracy here.
We recently asked you to complete the Wornick Family Survey to assess our health and safety protocol and your student's experience during this academic year. I want to share some key findings from the 103 parents who responded: Our families have overwhelming (97%) confidence in our health and safety measures. 94% of families shared that they are pleased with how this year is going for their students. Nearly every response indicated that our parents are committed to the success of Wornick. Please know that we read every piece of feedback that we receive. It is helpful to hear how we can continue to improve our program and gratifying to hear how successful this school year has been for our families and students.
On a brighter note, Thanksgiving is a time of reflection and gratitude. This year reminds us that nothing can be taken for granted, and to be thankful for even the smallest of blessings. Since this year's Thanksgiving plans will not be traditional, we want to see your family's creativity. Please share with firstname.lastname@example.org what you did this year to make it memorable.
Please click below to view a Thanksgiving message and discussion of this announcement.
As always, thank you for everything you do for our students and community as a whole.