HoS: COVID-19 Update
Hello Gillispie Families,
Below is information on vaccination availability for children ages 5 to 11, updates on mask-wearing for elementary students, reminders for our Thanksgiving return, and an invitation for our upcoming enrichment program, as well as our on-campus Pre-K to Grade 6 winter performance.
As you may be aware, the COVID-19 vaccination is now available to children between the ages of 5 and 11. We encourage all families to consider vaccinating their children as soon as they can to ensure the greatest protection against COVID infection and, more importantly, against serious illness and/or hospitalization. Although vaccine availability for children 5 to 11 moves us one step closer to California’s plan to mandate vaccines for all school-aged children, the state’s new regulation won’t apply until vaccines for juveniles, ages 12-17, and children, ages 5-11, are fully authorized by the FDA. Once the vaccines are fully approved, students will have until the next semester to complete their vaccinations and attend school in person. State officials have said that July 1 is the earliest the mandate is expected to begin. At this time, the state has not provided any information on exemptions.
The County of San Diego offers these reasons why young people benefit from a vaccine:
COVID-19 vaccines are the safest way to acquire protection from the COVID-19 virus.
While less common, young people may still suffer serious symptoms or long-term effects from COVID-19 disease.
Younger people may spread the virus to more vulnerable members of our community.
The more vaccinated individuals our community has, the less opportunity there is for different or new strains to occur or spread.
Fully vaccinated individuals can feel safer doing the things they enjoy.
Fully vaccinated individuals do not need to quarantine at home if exposed unless they develop symptoms.
At this time, the vaccine created by Pfizer is the only one available to individuals ages 5 to 11. According to the FDA, the vaccine is administered as a two-dose primary series, three weeks apart, but is a lower dose (10 micrograms) than that used for individuals 12 years of age and older (30 micrograms). See here for more information on the vaccine from the FDA.
When you plan to get your child vaccinated, please check with your healthcare provider for advice and availability. If you cannot get a vaccination from a health care provider, visit myturn.ca.gov or the County of San Diego vaccination website, or check with your local pharmacy or community clinic. Once your child is fully vaccinated, please email Nurse Greene a picture of the vaccination card. This information is very important if we need to conduct contract tracing in determining whether or not students need to quarantine per the San Diego County COVID-19 Decision Tree.
Change to Gillispie’s Mask Wearing Guidelines for Elementary Students
Gillispie is very pleased that there has been no exposure at Gillispie since mid-September, and we are encouraged that the number of cases and testing positivity percentage in San Diego County has dropped over the last several weeks. With these developments, beginning Monday, November 8, mask-wearing for students and employees on campus is optional while at recess. For clarity, the PE teachers and anyone else conducting a class outdoors will require masks when they feel it is necessary, and all campus volunteers and visitors will be required to wear masks whether or not vaccinated, both indoors and outdoors. Please know that previous protocols may be reinstated (or new guidelines added) if I believe it is in the best interest of our campus community to do so.
As a reminder, there will be no classes on Monday, November 29 so that everyone has an opportunity to be tested within 3 days before returning to campus on Tuesday, November 30. Results can be from either a lab-processed PCR or an Antigen test (Home test results will not be accepted). Families may opt to have their children PCR tested at Gillispie with UCSD’s EXCITE Lab on Monday, November 29, anytime between 9:00 AM and 2:00 PM with no appointment needed. The County’s free testing sites and your children’s pediatricians’ offices are other options.
With home and school teaming together by responding openly and quickly, we have done an amazing job as a community of having no COVID-19 transmission on campus. November is a month of gratitude, and I thank you for doing your part in keeping us safe.
Alison Fleming, Head of School