Dear Four Winds Community,
Thank you for all of your hard work keeping our community as free as COVID-19 as possible. We did a great job last year. While many Four Winds families experienced infections in their households, none of the cases appear to have come from exposure at school, and the virus was not spread at Four Winds. As the pandemic and virus have continued to evolve, we have done our best to keep Four Winds COVID-19 policies up-to-date. Several Four Winds families have high risk individuals at home and students have expressed a preference for a more conservative policy, so the Four Winds Board has chosen to continue to follow the CDC guidelines for high-risk individuals in setting policies for the school. In general, we’re following a more conservative approach to COVID-19 protocols than the public schools and wider community. The CDC recommends a multitiered approach to preventing the spread of COVID-19 in the school community. This year, Four Winds’ strategy will include: Vaccination, Symptom Monitoring, Masking, Air Purification – Ventilation, and Hygiene.
As we head into the school year, I encourage parents to communicate with their parent representative (Megan) or me (Airlie Rose – airliesattlerrose@gmail.) if you have questions about our policies, or would like to express your support or concerns.
- All students are required to have completed their primary vaccination series (first 2 shots) at least two-weeks before the first day of school.
- Families should consult the current CDC guidelines (attached) to determine whether their child needs a booster shot. We encourage all children and their family members to receive any recommended boosters (3rd and 4th shots) according to the CDC schedule prior to the start of school. It looks like new, omicron specific vaccines will be released this fall. We encourage Four Winds families to receive a booster shot with the new vaccine according to the CDC recommended schedule as they become available. We will require all students to be fully boosted according to the CDC guidelines before returning from winter break.
- NOTE: CDC guidelines state that a person with a recent SARS-CoV-2 infection may consider delaying a primary series or booster dose by 3 months from symptom onset or positive test (if infection was asymptomatic).
- With the reduced availability of PCR testing and the high incidence of false negatives on rapid tests with current variants, symptom monitoring will be our first line of defense for keeping the virus out of the classroom this year. We encourage parents to stay up-to-date with the symptoms and keep children home when they show signs of being sick. The current list of COVID-19 symptoms according to the CDC is:
- Fever or chills
- Shortness of breath or difficulty breathing
- Muscle or body aches
- New loss of taste or smell
- Sore throat
- Congestion or runny nose
- Nausea or vomiting
- People with COVID-19 have had a wide range of symptoms reported – ranging from mild symptoms to severe illness. Symptoms may appear 2-14 days after exposure to the virus. Anyone can have mild to severe symptoms.
- All students and staff will wear a well-fitting mask that fully covers their nose and mouth while indoors. To protect yourself and others from COVID-19, CDC recommends that you wear the most protective mask you can that fits well and that you will wear consistently. Masks provide different levels of protection: Loosely woven cloth products provide the least protection, layered finely woven products offer more protection, well-fitting disposable surgical masks and KN95s offer even more protection, and well-fitting NIOSH-approved respirators (including N95s) offer the highest level of protection.
- We encourage all members of the Four Winds community to wear N95 masks, if they can tolerate them. However, we recognize that people have different sensory needs and levels of tolerance. If a student finds an N95 mask so uncomfortable that they pull it below their nose to seek relief, then it will be more protective (and create less stress for the teachers enforcing the mask wearing policy) for them to wear a lower grade mask that is more comfortable. Whatever product you choose, it should fit closely on the face without any gaps along the edges or around the nose and be comfortable enough when worn properly (covering your nose and mouth) so that you can keep it on throughout the school day. Teachers will demonstrate and enforce effective mask use.
- We encourage students to go mask-free when outside. The CDC does not consider masking outside to be helpful or necessary (unless a person has recently tested positive for COVID-19). Therefore, we encourage students to relax and trust the evidence. Teachers will seek opportunities for outdoor learning as the curriculum and weather permit.
- We recommend that all members of our student’s families wear N95 masks when taking public transit (bus, train, airplanes, etc.). With the lifting of the mask mandate, travel is a particularly high risk activity for COVID-19 exposure.
Air Purification – Ventilation
- We will continue to run our surgical-grade air filters in both classrooms, and open the windows when possible.
- TBD. Regular, asymptomatic testing was an effective component of last year’s COVID-19 strategy. However, the limited availability of PCR testing means that we need to revamp last year’s approach. We are researching our options now, and we will let the community know how testing will (or will not) be a part of our prevention strategy closer to the start of the school year.
- Four Winds School (and the CDC) recognizes the importance of in-person learning. We are committed to meeting in-person and will only transition to remote learning if mandated by the state or federal government (as in Spring of 2020). If necessary, we did find that our curriculum supported student success when working at home. However, we will not offer remote learning to students unless mandated to do so.
We are updating our flow-chart for what to do if your student or family member tests positive for COVID-19, has been exposed, or is symptomatic, and we will provide the revised chart to families before the start of school.
Wishing you all a healthy and happy close to your summer vacation,
Four Winds Board Member & COVID-19 Resource Person
The timing of the unexpected and dramatic revision of the CDC guidelines is problematic since we just determined and shared our COVID-19 policy for the year, and the board previously agreed to use the CDC guidelines as our authority. Therefore, we will need to revise the school’s COVID-19 approach in a way that ensures community buy-in. For a number of reasons, we think that it is important that we keep the policy as it is for the start of school. In October, the board plans to invite a facilitator from a local Sociocracy group to facilitate a community meeting. In this meeting, stakeholders from the full Four Winds community (staff, students, and family members) will be invited to find consensus on the school’s revised COVID-19 policy. We want all stakeholders to have an equal say in the decision. We’ve worked with this group before, and they value and have experience in teaching young people how to engage in consensus based decision making.
August 31, 2022
Dear Four Winds Community,
Thank you for all of your hard work keeping our community as free as COVID-19 as possible. The CDC updated its quarantine and isolation recommendations on August 11 and August 24th, and I have used the updated pages to revise the school’s flow-chart for determining when your student needs to stay home and when they can return to school with an N95 mask. The CDC continues to update its pages, and I will plan to revise this flowchart (if needed) when we revisit the school’s masking policy in October.
The most important thing we can do as a community is to carefully monitor symptoms of our family members and keep a supply of rapid tests on-hand to test any member of our family who exhibits symptoms of COVID-19. Please consult the CDC pages linked at the bottom of the page to clarify terms like: Exposure, Symptoms, and Isolation.
I used the following CDC webpages to create this flowchart. Please consult these pages for more detailed information: