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Happy New Year, Arbor families,

I am writing on behalf of Arbor’s COVID-19 Task Force with some important reminders as we begin a new semester in the middle of an active pandemic. Thus far, Arbor has provided as much in-person education as possible while rigorously implementing virus mitigation protocols, including wearing masks, keeping distance, engaging in enhanced cleaning, utilizing physical dividers (i.e., plexiglass), and cohorting by classroom, among other measures.  We started small and have been able to cautiously extend our in-person offerings with careful planning and monitoring.

We continue to ask our families to assist our efforts in several ways, including:

  • Practicing physical distancing and wearing a mask while both on and off-campus.
  • Making efforts to limit risks outside of Arbor, such as limiting travel and participation in large social gatherings.
  • Monitoring students and other family members for illness (including COVID-19) while at home. 
  • Keeping students who are sick, or live with an ill household member, at home
  • Keeping students at home if they, or a household member, have been exposed to anyone who has, or has symptoms of, COVID-19.
  • Seeking COVID-19 testing when appropriate. 
  • Reporting illness and/or test results to the school in a timely manner.  
As our children come back to school on Tuesday, January 5th, these efforts have never been more critical. The virus positivity rate in our area continues to climb, increasing risk.  During the break, if you were placed in situations where masks were not worn, gatherings were larger and a bit closer than anticipated, or you were potentially exposed to COVID-19 during holiday travel, we implore you to keep your family at home in accordance with CDC guidelines and consider testing. Further, if someone in your family has tested positive or has a test pending for COVID-19, we ask that you notify the school and keep your family at home. Please refer to Arbor’s Return to School Screening Chart for additional information.

As we embark upon the spring semester, The Task Force and Administration will continue to:
  • Report cases in our community in the Arbor Update in the format previously established.
  • Report any exposure to those affected as quickly as possible with a general notice to the community shortly thereafter.
  • Conduct contact tracing for positive cases and a root cause analysis for transmission.
  • Refine practices we recommend to families and staff as cases are analyzed
  • Recommend following the original CDC guidelines for return to work/school after exposure (see Arbor’s Return to School Screening Chart) due to the significant increase in positivity rate in the greater community.  We are aware of the new guidelines and will continue to evaluate the need for any future policy changes.
Please remember: We cannot, by law, disclose the identity of an affected individual unless given clearance to do so. The ability to report health information privately is at the core of our remaining open safely, and we must protect privacy to encourage reporting. If the information we can provide feels insufficient for you to feel safe sending your child for in-person learning, the school has established a virtual, home-education option for most levels. 

The Task Force has considered a number of items raised by the community, including implementation of screening testing and adjusting the COVID-19 Decision Tree to include a threshold for case counts / positivity rate as a means of guiding school decision-making.  
While each suggestion was considered carefully, the Task Force has agreed not to adopt any of these recommended changes at this time for these reasons:
  • Tests/testing are currently less available, and we agreed to continue to recommend testing for exposed or sick individuals only. 
  • Amending the Decision Tree to include a case threshold for decision making was considered. However, we found little guidance on how to accomplish this, making any established limits arbitrary.  

As with all suggestions, the Task Force will continue to review and evaluate emerging guidelines and practices to ensure that we are recommending the best possible strategy for our school.

Last July, we all agreed to work in partnership to help mitigate the spread of COVID-19 in our school. We rely on each family to be honest about any potential exposures that have occurred over the break so that we can continue to keep our incidence of coronavirus in our community low. Your efforts are vital in helping us safeguard the health of the children and students, our staff, and the Arbor community. Thank you for doing your part. 

Sincerely,

Lani Paxton
On behalf of the COVID-19 Task Force

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