SAS Parent Newsletter
November 13, 2020
Today, the state has set a new record for daily cases with over 8,000. As mentioned in previous newsletters, we are beginning to experience this virus encroaching on school families. If this trend continues, we will have to re-evaluate whether we can maintain in-person learning. We will do everything we can to maintain this objective of keeping students in school, but we all must take this threat level seriously. I am pleading with families keep your kids home if they experience any symptoms and to please evaluate their Thanksgiving plans while making the appropriate changes to reduce the possibility of community spread. Trust me, I know this is not easy as my family recently made the decision to host Thanksgiving virtually. Do we want to do it? No, but the health of others is important and things can escalate quickly. Case in point, another Catholic school had one case beginning this week impacting 19 people. By the end of the week they had 4 cases with over 100 people quarantined. Their situation became so critical they recently made the decision to go virtual until January 19th. In this situation, it should be noted that transmission of the virus was not necessarily contributed to spread within the school, but an indication that community spread is high. As studies have indicated, schools have done a great job at mitigating spread and outbreaks are occurring as a result of spread outside in the community. While this may be true, we are not impervious and we will continue to be vigilant in our approach.
The other reality with COVID is the transmission of the virus can occur 48-hours prior to the onset of any symptoms. So people may feel fine and not realize they have been infected until days later. Depending on the activity levels of that person and the number of interactions within that period, the number of people impacted could be significant. All the reason why I make the suggestion to take this serious.
This school year, I have made it my personal mission to learn as much as I can on COVID while staying current with trends and research that can impact our ability to provide a safe environment for everyone. One major shift in my thinking is the recognition that COVID is mainly transmitted through aerosols. While transmission can occur through the secondary objects, the probability is much lower. When you recognize the virus as an aerosol, you then begin to identify the importance of masks, ventilation, and air-exchange rates within environments. For this is the reason why every classroom has implemented air purifiers with HEPA filters while also keeping windows and doors open. We want as much air-flow as possible within our classrooms. Our students may be bringing blankets to class once we hit winter, but this mitigation strategy of trying to bring as much fresh air into the room is critical. Two weeks ago, I came across a great article from Spain that looks at the importance of ventilation in three different settings: a small gathering, a bar, and a classroom. The article was based on work from an atmosphere chemist from University of Colorado who specializes in the chemistry and dynamics of air particles. It should be noted that the article is reliant upon certain conditions that may fluctuate across environments, but upon reading it will make you evaluate the importance of air quality and the dangers present without other mitigations strategies present. If anything, I hope there is some information you can take away from the article as people move to more indoor settings. I should also inform you the article has a lot of white space between sections, so I do recommend scrolling through to complete the article. The article is here.
For clarity, my intention is not to promote fear or sound alarming, but knowledge is power and the current trends require us as a society to make some changes. The trajectory is not looking good. I know I cannot control the actions of others but my hope is to educate and help families evaluate their decisions to maintain their safety and the our safety as a school community. Again, I will do my best to keep families informed and updated. I truly believe we can get through this and we will get through this if we work together.