Glacier Ridge Gazette
Glacier Ridge Elementary School | September 10, 2021
Let's Talk About COVID - Please Read
I want to thank you for your kindness, empathy, and understanding around school and COVID. I want to also acknowledge that quarantine procedures and forcing students out of school is a frustrating process. Much like you, we want students in school. Quarantining students is a frustrating experience for students, families, and schools. Without getting into political or personal opinions, at the school level, we are required to follow protocols and GRE does not have any autonomy with COVID quarantine and close contact protocols.
I want to give you background about close contact and quarantine. You can see the quarantine flowchart designed by FCPH and additional clarification to help understand the process. It can be complicated and can often change. Schools conduct contact tracing and then FCPH determines the process and quarantine length. To understand quarantine, you must also understand what it means to be a close contact. Anyone that is closer than 6 feet away without a mask or 3 feet apart while wearing a mask and exposed to a COVID-positive person for longer than 15 cumulative minutes over the symptomatic period is identified as a close contact. In all locations, we have seating charts so we can track where students are sitting. Although it is not a perfect process, it is important to know who each child is sitting next to in order to contact trace.
Now, let’s get into the concept of quarantine. If students are wearing masks properly, the only time they would have to quarantine is 1) they have symptoms or test positive or 2) they were close contact to a positive COVID case (not wearing a mask for cumulative 15 minutes while being exposed to a symptomatic or COVID-positive person).
Based on current FCPH mitigation strategy guidance, students that are: 1) wearing a mask, 2) 3 feet apart, and 3) are routinely washing hands and in schools that clean (which we do), DO NOT need to quarantine, unless they exhibit symptoms. If all three of the above items are met, then students DO NOT need to quarantine. However, there are two instances where the above three criteria cannot be met. The first is on the bus. Students are closer than 3 feet apart because there are not enough buses to fully space them 3 feet apart. FCPH states that despite being closer than 3 feet (or 6 feet if not wearing a mask), if the student was wearing a mask, they only need to go into modified quarantine. Modified quarantine means that students can continue to come to school and participate in extracurricular activities, but are otherwise limited from going out to other events (birthday parties, restaurants, etc.).
With that background, let’s talk about lunch. The other instance where a student would need to quarantine is as a result of lunch. Eating lunch requires students to pull down and/or remove their mask to eat. Doing so negates one of the three mitigation strategies from FCPH (listed above). When students remove their mask and are a close contact, they must fully quarantine. According to FCPH, not wearing a mask gives students the most vulnerability to contracting the virus (politics and opinions aside). Therefore, all students that are a close contact while eating lunch must quarantine. This is often only the people that are sitting near the COVID-positive student.
We are evaluating our lunch procedures so we can reduce the likelihood of quarantining. The difficulty is space. With 500 students, it is extremely difficult to space students out 6 feet while eating. We were able to do this last year because we only had 300 students attending in-person school. We can only fit about 80 students at a time in the cafeteria while spaced 6 feet. We have multiple grade levels well above 80 students. We could break the grade level into 2 parts to get under the 80 student number, but that means adding more lunch periods. As it is, we already start lunch at 11am and end at 1:30pm. In addition, we would need additional staff to supervise recess duty. Therefore, both space and manpower (among other scheduling issues) are significant factors that make lunch difficult. We are exploring options as a school to identify changes that we can make to reduce the need to quarantine from lunch.
If you’re confused, I can certainly understand. It is a complicated process and educators are now forced to understand, explain, and reinforce health procedures. The school nurses are continually calling families to inform and guide them through each situation. So, should you receive the unfortunate phone call that your child must go home due possible symptoms or COVID exposure, please know that we empathize with you and we don’t want to make that call just as much as you don’t want to receive it.
I am extremely grateful that I am able to come into work and see children every day. Fostering a high quality educational experience and supporting staff, students, and families is why I got into education. I am still able to reap this reward even during a very difficult pandemic. However, I also wanted to reiterate that we acknowledge that we know it is very difficult for families. We can empathize with you about the inconvenience, struggle, and hardship of quarantining places on families.
As always, thank you for your kindness, empathy, and support.
Pete Kurty, Ed.D
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Did You Miss the PTO Meeting?
Did you miss our PTO general meeting this week with Dr. Marschhausen? We offered both in person and virtual attendance options. However, you can watch the video of the meeting HERE.
Dublin Family Night
Tiger Trot Fundraiser! - Now through September 17
The Tiger Trot fundraiser kicks off today! Register your child’s fundraising page at http://pledgestar.com/grepto and share the page with family and friends.
We invite family and friends to make our main fall fundraiser a success by helping us reach our $5,000 fundraising goal! We hope that each of our 500 GRE students will raise a $10 donation (we will always accept more or less).
The Tiger Trot Fundraiser is replacing our annual membership drive and mum sale, reducing the number of fundraisers this year. It will also build upon our long-time purpose of tiger conservation and incorporate additional activities that foster community building, collaboration, kindness, and empathy.
Alternative Birthday Treats
Dublin City Schools implements a wellness policy to reduce student allergen exposure and promote healthy eating. As a result, we no do not share birthday food treats with other students during school. However, we do have great alternative options to celebrate your child’s birthday. The library has a birthday book program which allows your child to choose a book to place in the GRE library. Reach out to our media specialist (email@example.com). You can also donate an indoor recess game in your child’s classroom. Another option is to bring in non-food trinkets for your child’s classmates. For those that know about our tiger trunk program, we will wait to see the health and safety guidelines before opening that up for birthday trinkets.
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Sept 15 - Dublin Family Night
Sept 16 - Hawaiian Ice Truck at GRE parking lot from 5-7pm
Sept 17 - Tiger Trot
Sept 22 - Fall Picture Day
Oct 1 - PTO Fall Festival at Leed’s Farm
Oct 4 - Zoo Celebration for Students
Oct 11 - PTO Cookie Dough Sale Begins
Oct 13 - Family Conference Night and Principal Q & A @ 5pm
Oct 15 - No School - Staff Professional Day
Oct 18 - Yearbook Cover Art Contest Begins
Oct 21 - Family Conference Night
Oct 25 - PTO Cookie Dough Sale Ends
Oct 26 - Operation Kids for Troops Collection Begins
Oct 27 - Picture Day Make-Up
Oct 29 - Yearbook Cover Art Contest Ends
Oct 29 - Harvest Parties (more details to follow)
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The latest COVID-19 data for Dublin City Schools is posted at this link.
The Dublin City Schools Zone Podcast - New episodes available every Monday
Join Supt. Dr. Marschhausen and his guests by downloading the DCS School Zone podcasts throughout the school year. In our newest episode, Dr. Marschhausen talks with Dr. Bennyce Hamilton, the Director of Diversity, Equity and Inclusion, about how she found her way to the District and her new role.
Operation Street Smart Sept. 22
Presented by the Franklin County Sheriff’s Office, Operation Street Smart teaches parents how to recognize the influences of drug culture among our kids. Join us on Sept. 22 at 7 p.m. at Dublin Coffman for this important free program.
Questions? We can help!
The communications department has created a “who to contact” page for the public in an effort to direct questions to the individuals who can provide the most complete and timely answers. View the Who to Contact page.