"Our Future Is Strong" Protocol Update (#22)

Dear Good Shepherd Families,

In this year's January 5th and January 20th issues of Our Future is Strong, the school announced shifts in the timeline on our plan to ease into a mask recommended (not required) policy. This email will update you on the status of the plan as well as adjustments to our contract tracing/quarantine and our distance learning policies. 

Updated Phase One of Mask Recommended (not Required) Policy: We will begin phasing into our mask recommended (not required) policy as communicated on January 20, 2022. 

On February 7, 2022, our middle school will begin the mask recommended (not required) policy. The new policy will include the following: 

  • Students and faculty in middle school will be mask recommended (not required) when in their classrooms with students from their grade level. 
  • When students are indoors, mixing grade levels (hallways, chapel, etc.), and on buses, masks will be required. Please continue to send a mask with your child each day!
  • Any indoor events on campus (sharings, class parties, etc.) will require a mask.
  • Masks are always optional when students and faculty are outdoors.  

On February 14, 2022, our lower school, early childhood, and staff will begin the mask recommended (not required) policy as outlined above. Our PDO will continue with their current mask policies. 

Contact Tracing and Quarantine Update: The Protocol Review Team has continued to monitor all quarantines on our campus, paying special attention to those resulting in positive COVID-19 cases. We are encouraged to report nearly all of these situations have been the result of a household exposure. As a result, we have revisited our contact tracing and quarantine policies and will be making the following changes, beginning Monday, February 7th:

  • The school will suspend contact tracing procedures for on-campus COVID-19 exposures for Kinder through 8th grades.
  • For Pre-K and PDO, the school will continue to contact trace and notify parents of close contacts at school, who will be required to quarantine.
  • Quarantines will only be required for household exposures (when someone in the household tests positive, others in the household are subject to quarantine) for Kinder through 8th grades.
  • Individuals with immunity, either from vaccine or documented natural infection within the last 90 days, and who have been exposed may choose to return to campus without a quarantine, provided they wear a mask at all times indoors and continue to monitor for symptoms. 

Regardless of these procedures, we want to ensure families of all grade levels are informed of any potential issues. We will notify you of any potential COVID-19 outbreaks should any of the following occur:

  • For PDO and Pre-K, we will continue to notify you any time your child is identified as a close contact.
  • For Kinder through 4th grades, we will notify you if there are more than two positive cases within a quarantine period (currently defined as 7 days) in your child’s class.
  • For 5th through 8th grades, we will notify you if there is substantial spread within a quarantine period (currently defined as 7 days) among your child’s grade level.

As always, you may check the school’s COVID-19 dashboard for real-time information on active COVID-19 cases across the school.

Distance Learning Implications: If the school communicates an issue regarding COVID-19 cases in your child’s classroom or grade level and you are concerned about potential spread, we will offer your child the option of voluntarily opting into distance learning for a quarantine period (currently defined as 7 days), even if your child is not specifically identified as a close contact.

We will continue to monitor cases and further changes in the pandemic that might require adjustments to this policy. 

“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