HoS Update: Jan. 1, 2022
Dear Gillispie Families,
I hope this letter finds you well and with lovely memories of time spent with family over the holidays. Our family stayed close to home and played many board games and charades-–I had no idea that some members were as competitive as when they played (or coached) recreational sports!
With holiday travel and event gatherings, the late December COVID surge due to the omicron variant is expected to rapidly increase over the next few weeks.
As a school, our most important sources of information on COVID-19 come from the CDC, NIH, and the California Department of Health (CDPH). Based on their recommendations, the San Diego County Office of Education outlines its protocols. Currently, Gillispie is following the K-12 Decision Tree (Dec. 7th) and the Childcare Decision Tree (Dec. 13th). When the CDC new isolation and quarantine guidance is updated in the CDPH’s Guidance for K-12 Schools, we will notify you.
Gillispie continues to implement layered prevention strategies including: requiring students and employees to stay home when sick; contact tracing in combination with quarantining and isolating; handwashing; universal masking; cleaning and disinfecting; and thoroughly ventilating classrooms. We ask you to further team with us by taking action in the following areas.
Get Tested to Return to School After Break
In keeping with our plans to lessen potential exposure and outbreak after prolonged school holidays, there will be no classes on Monday, January 3. This will allow everyone an opportunity to be tested within 3 days before returning to campus on Tuesday, January 4. Results should be obtained from a lab-processed PCR test. Home rapid test results will not be accepted. Families may opt to have their children PCR tested at Gillispie with UCSD’s EXCITE Lab on Monday, January 3, 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. All employees and students, regardless of vaccination status, must show proof of a negative PCR test taken within three days of returning to school.
At Gillispie all individuals will continue wearing masks indoors. For the near term, elementary students will return to wearing masks at recess. They will be given mask breaks at morning snack and lunch time and when teachers can appropriately space the children while outdoors. We will look at the policy in two weeks to determine when masks can be removed for outdoor recess.
Please be sure that masks are clean and of good quality (CDPH Guidance for Face Coverings). KN95, N95, or other multi-layered surgical masks are the best option. Poorly-fitting, thin-clothed, or loosely woven/mesh masks do not provide adequate protection.
We remind adults dropping off or picking up students to wear masks.
Consider Vaccinating Your Children
The numbers indicate that vaccinations have shown protection from serious illness for both adults and eligible children. We urge you to have this discussion with your pediatrician.
Open to students, employees, and their families, the second and final vaccination clinic at Gillispie and sponsored by Costco Pharmacy is planned for January 5 from 1:00 p.m. to 2:30 p.m. In addition to the pediatric Pfizer vaccine for children ages 5 to 11 years old, Costco medical personnel will also be administering adult vaccines of Pfizer, Moderna, Johnson & Johnson, and boosters.
Whether you are a new or returning participant, you will not need to pre-register. If you are returning, please come at the same time you were scheduled on December 15. For new participants, you should arrive between 1:15 pm and 2:00 pm for on-site registration. Yes, the first vaccine will be available, though you’ll need to get the second dose at another site.
Returning and new participants will need to complete the Costco consent form and Gillispie student version and adult version waivers. Please remember that you are required to accompany your child to the clinic.
Communicate Positive Cases and Vaccination Status
Please communicate with Michele Greene ([email protected]), Director of Health and Safety and Pandemic Coordinator, if your child has had COVID-19 over the Winter Break (even if the isolation period has ended). We need the date of the onset of symptoms or positive test result, whichever comes first. For those families and employees who have already notified the School, we appreciate your honesty. Also of critical importance is providing a picture of the vaccination record for your children who are fully vaccinated. With this data, Gillispie can make plans that are in the best interest of students and employees, including determining quarantining protocols.
Please Team with Gillispie
Though I recognize the inconvenience of this practice, if inclement weather is forecasted that would keep us indoors for the majority of the day, we will switch to off-campus learning due to the high transmissibility of the omicron variant. Also, keeping your children home when they are not feeling well or picking them up promptly if they become ill while at school will be key.
Recently I heard the statement that “Together we are braver, bolder, stronger,” and believe this to be true. All indications are that January will be difficult as we ride this next wave, but we ride it together. Our concerted efforts, flexibility, and steadfastness will see us through.
Alison Fleming, Head of School