11/12/21 Important Covid Update

11/12/21

Good Afternoon from Hatfield Elementary. 

This week’s update will be specifically addressing recent Covid-19 developments in the school this week. 

First, I’d like to thank everyone for their patience and understanding as we have navigated these most recent developments. I understand that there was some confusion about the notifications that went out to some people but not others. In order for our efforts to be as effective as possible, we did prioritize communicating with those directly affected first, prior to a widespread communication to the community. We also communicated by email to those affected, with a phone message to the whole school with a brief update on Wednesday. I understand that email notifications are inherently less personal than phone calls, however they allow us to convey important information quickly and in a targeted manner in order to most efficiently let parents and guardians know of developments. As always, we are available to answer questions that people may have. 

Here is how things currently stand: 

Last week,some confirmed cases were brought to our attention by members of the HES community.  As soon as we could, we notified close contacts of those individuals through an email with the subject line “close contact notification.” To generate our list of close contacts, we used a 6 foot radius from the positive case in their class, specials classes, and at lunch. In many cases, because of multiple confirmed cases in a class, and the nature of seating, the close contact notifications included a significant portion of a class, or the entire class. 

On Wednesday afternoon (Nov. 10), we were notified that we had a pooled test tube come back positive. We were able to have that class continue outside instruction, provide rapid followup tests to the class, and identify individuals who tested positive on the rapid tests. Anyone who tested positive through the rapid follow-up testing was referred for a PCR test and sent home to follow isolation protocols.

After hours between Wednesday night and Thursday, we received notification that we had an additional three tubes across four classes that came back positive. We notified parents and guardians of students in those classes about the positive tubes with an email using “Positive Pooled Test” in the subject line, and asked that they seek a PCR test for their child. It’s important to note that this request was made to help families know if they should initiate isolation protocols at home, and so we could more efficiently identify confirmed positive cases who may have been in school while infectious.  

Having a PCR test done is not a requirement for students in a positive pool to attend school on Monday. However, we would ask that they participate in our test and stay program on Monday. That program is described in more detail below. 

Importantly, just because someone was in a positive pooled test does not mean that they are considered to have tested positive, nor does it make them a close contact. Participation in PCR tests over the weekend and rapid tests on Monday will help to identify and confirm any positive cases so that we can identify close contacts and so families can assure safety at home.

Lastly, there were many families who received both the positive pooled test email and the close contact notification. That is because in some classes we have both outside PCR tests that have come back positive, and positive pooled tests. While there are some cases where the positive individuals may be the same, there are others where we know that the individuals are different. 

Currently, we have many confirmed positive cases across different grades levels, as well as positive pooled test tubes across multiple grade levels at Hatfield Elementary School. 

What this means for us next week: 

On Monday, we will have support from both the Army National Guard, as well as TruCare to support our test-and-stay efforts. We will have roughly 100 students and 20 staff who are required or encouraged to participate in Test-and-Stay. We will run this program through next Friday, November 29th. It will begin at 7:30 AM. Anyone whose child(ren) received either a close contact notification or a positive pooled test notification should take part. If your child did not receive one of these notifications, they are not eligible for test-and-stay and can come to school as a normal day. 

Because of the number of students engaging in Test-and-Stay, we ask that parents and guardians do the following: 

  1. Please park in the rear lot, or the field beyond the rear lot. Last week we used the PK parking lot and in addition to making it difficult for our PK students, we will simply have too many people for that to be feasible this week. 

  2. Parents and students should come to the exterior gym door and check in with a staff member. They will be directed inside to one of three stations manned by at least two testers, will get their swab, and be asked to return to their vehicle to await results. 

  3. After 15 minutes, a staff member will go out to meet folks at their cars to let them know of their results. Students can then enter through the community door and begin their day. 

  4. Because of the number of people being tested, we do ask that students wait in their parents/guardians cars if possible. 

  5. Students late because of TAS will not be marked tardy. 

We are also taking additional short-term steps in the school to increase our margin of safety.

  1. At lunch, students will be at individual desks spread at least 6 feet apart and facing the same direction. Lunch will be outside if possible, but if not, this will help increase our margin of safety. 

  2. Students will be required to wear face masks outside at recess when playing in groups. 

  3. Classes will be encouraged to take part in outdoor learning activities. 

  4. Within classrooms, student seating has been distanced to the extent possible, and assigned seats will be required (i.e. no flexible seating or rug time). 

  5. We will continue to utilize all sanitation efforts and our HEPA filters in classrooms. 

With your help, we can put this bump behind us and return to the kind of instruction that we all know and love. Thank you for your continued support and patience. 

I’d like to end with a note of thanks for our Nurse Manager- Jean Hobbie. Her efforts these last few days have been nothing short of superhuman. Huge thanks to her! 

 

Thank you, 

Conor Driscoll, Ed.D.