We would like to update you on several changes to our COVID-19 protocols that will take effect on Monday, February 7.
We have previously stated that we would continue to monitor conditions surrounding COVID-19 to determine when a less-restrictive mask policy could be put in place at our school. With the surge in COVID-19 cases appearing to be on the decline in our area, the number of pediatric and school-associated cases dropping, the number of cases in our school community having dramatically decreased since December, all families who would like to have their children ages 5 and up fully vaccinated now having had the opportunity to do so, and the guidance for the general public and schools in particular regarding isolation and quarantine having changed yet again, we believe it is time to scale back our mask protocols. Effective February 7, we will strongly recommend, but not require, masks, with certain exceptions.
We thank you for your patience and cooperation as we have systematically and regularly evaluated data to make the best possible decisions in order to preserve a safe in-person learning experience for our students and staff. Our mask policy is the only protocol among many layers of protection against COVID-19 that is being reduced at this time. We continue to strongly recommend masks, and as Catholic school leaders, we expect that there will be no stigma attached to any individual’s choice to mask or not. We will also continue to maintain distancing, sanitizing, hand washing, symptom monitoring, temperature checking, and symptom-free return-to-school protocols, at least through the remainder of this school year. We want to be clear that this decision is being made solely by us as the parish and school administration based on the facts and data available at this time. While we thank those who have taken the time to share their views with us on the topic, please know that our information and guidance comes directly from the Centers for Disease Control, the Ohio Department of Health, Summit County Public Health, and the Diocese of Cleveland.
Effective February 7, masks will be strongly recommended, but not required, for students, staff, volunteers, and visitors, regardless of vaccination status.
However, masks will be required of students, staff, volunteers, and visitors, regardless of vaccination status, in the following situations:
When riding buses to and from school or for field trips (the mask policy of the field trip location will be followed while off-site);
At school Mass or prayer services;
At all-school assemblies;
In the school clinic as necessary;
In settings, situations and school spaces when individuals are working in close proximity one-on-one or in small groups; and
If there is an outbreak in a classroom or the school.
We will continue to monitor conditions and may make changes to the mask policy as warranted.
Please make sure your child has enough masks to wear a clean mask each day. A spare mask should be kept in the student’s backpack at all times.
CONTACT TRACING AND REPORTING
In order to operate with our new mask policy, and to protect all students and staff, especially our most vulnerable students and staff, we will continue to contact trace and notify families of exposure.
ISOLATION, QUARANTINE AND SYMPTOM-FREE POLICY
In relation to isolation and quarantine, we will follow the revised Mask to Stay / Test to Play guidelines issued on January 26. These guidelines serve as a baseline starting point for K-12 schools, with the freedom for schools to expand upon them. Our only deviation from these guidelines is that we will require, not recommend, students who have been exposed to COVID-19 to be tested on the 5th day following exposure. In summary:
ISOLATION FOLLOWING POSITIVE TEST: Students and staff who test positive for COVID-19, regardless of vaccination status, must isolate for 5 full days from the date of their positive test. If asymptomatic on day 5, these individuals may return to school on day 6 from the positive test and must wear a mask at all times for 5 days upon return.
QUARANTINE FOLLOWING EXPOSURE REGARDLESS OF VACCINATION STATUS OR LOCATION / NATURE OF EXPOSURE: Students and staff who are exposed to a COVID-19 positive individual, regardless of vaccination status or location / nature of exposure, may return to school immediately without needing to quarantine. These individuals must wear a mask at all times for 10 days upon return. These individuals must also complete a proctored test on the 5th day following exposure and may remain at school if the test result is negative.
In addition, our 48-hours symptom-free policy remains in effect. As a reminder, this means that your child cannot return to school until a full 48 hours have passed from the last evidence of symptoms, NOT from the start of symptoms. We realize this may be inconvenient, but it has prevented COVID-19 spread in our building on numerous occasions and with the lessening of other protocols, we need to keep this policy in place at this time.
We will continue to offer distance learning in COVID-19-related situations as approved by administration only.
In a few short weeks, we will mark the two-year anniversary of the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic. Since then, we have evolved along with the situation, and believe there is no longer a need to continue the COVID-19 Task Force. While we are grateful for the service of the task force members during the past two years, we have not met with the task force since November 8, 2021. Therefore, the task force has been disbanded effective January 31, 2022.
As we move into this new phase of the pandemic and our school response to it, we are aware that our families fall into a variety of situations. Please be mindful that others’ circumstances may differ from those of you or your children, and remember that kindness and respectfulness must be maintained in all interactions with children or adults in our school community. We appreciate your cooperation in talking with your children about this at home to ensure that a Catholic, Christian environment prevails in our school each day.
As always, if you have questions or concerns, please feel free to contact us.
Fr. Steve Brunovsky
Mrs. Jennifer Woodman