Our Future Is Strong, Protocol Update (Edition #19)

Dear Good Shepherd Families,

Welcome back from Christmas break! I hope you each had a joyful time with family and friends!

In the November 18, 2021 issue of Our Future is Strong, we announced a plan to ease into a mask recommended (not required) policy. This email will update you on the status of that plan and also our updated quarantine protocol for anyone who tests positive for COVID-19. 

Mask Protocol Update:
As you recall, the process to ease into the mask recommended (not required) began on December 6, 2021, with our 7th and 8th graders having the option to remove their mask when inside classrooms with students from their own grade level. Depending on where we are in the pandemic, our next step was for the entire school to shift to a mask recommended (not required) policy on January 10, 2022.
In our Protocol Review Team meeting this week, we evaluated the latest information on the Omicron surge, as well as data from all other sources we typically use. We wanted to inform you we have decided to continue our current mask policy (allowing 7th and 8th graders the option to remove their mask in their classrooms) for an additional two weeks, shifting the next step of our mask recommended (not required) policy date to January 24, 2022. There were several factors that led to this decision for us:

  • The latest models show the Omicron surge might peak around January 9, 2022. We would like to see cases decline before making this mask change. 
  • With our mask recommended policy for 7th and 8th grade students in their classrooms and with a few other schools in a mask recommended policy, we hope to gather some data about potential school spread with Omicron. 
  • We know how challenging it is for all of us when our teachers are away from school, particularly with the shortage of substitute teachers schools are experiencing. Extending our current masking policy allows our faculty and staff the best opportunity to be able to be present each day to teach your children. 

I know this news may bring mixed emotions for you as parents. Please know we spent significant time in research and discussion. We are extremely hopeful the Omicron curve turns downward soon which will put us in a different situation.

Updated Quarantine Protocol:
The CDC has updated some of its guidance around quarantine protocols once you test positive. At this time, our quarantine protocol for positive cases is 10 days after symptoms start or a positive test. Beginning on January 10, 2022, we will shift to a 7-day quarantine protocol for positive cases, if symptoms improve substantially. Masks must be worn for the following three days no matter the current school’s mask protocol. The clinic will continue to calculate return dates using this new protocol. This new guidance will be effective for any quarantines extending past January 10, 2022. 

Please remember all positive cases and exposures in our community should be reported to clinic@gsesdallas.org. 

“Our Future Is Strong” is a series of brief, informative emails/posts which began April 30, 2020 to keep the community informed about our preparations for our return to campus and the ways we will live together as a community during the pandemic. “Our Future Is Strong” will continue periodically on an as-needed basis. We have also posted this series on the Coronavirus (COVID-19) section of our website for your reference.

Together we are #gsesStrong, 

Julie McLeod, Ph.D.
Head of School