News & Updates 1/28/22

From Todd:

New Testing Protocol
Effective next week, we will be moving to a new COVID mitigation strategy that will reduce the amount of testing at school. We will continue to utilize pool testing once per week, but rather than testing a full class every day for five days after a close contact, we will provide at-home tests for students to utilize three days after the pool test. Any student who has tested positive in the last 90 days will continue to be exempt from testing. We will deliver tests at pick up and we will have some available in the office.

Due to the number of close contacts we have daily, we were testing multiple classes at a time, and we just don’t have the personnel to maintain that part of the process. Other schools across the state have reported similar issues and as a result, the state has developed this new option that they are now recommending for all schools.

I am sure the storm this weekend will impact delivery, but stay tuned for further details. 

COVID Update and Our Teachers
Today we had 9 employees out. That is about 30% of our workforce. We were able to find two wonderful substitutes to cover classes- Thank you Karen and Clement. We cut most specials in order to have art and PE teachers covering classes. I am incredibly grateful for the flexibility and “make it work for the kids” attitude that every NNS employee showed to keep the school operating on an in person basis today. You could argue that it was just a day or just a week, but I would argue that it was heroic, and they have shown that level of commitment throughout this pandemic. While other industries are facing “The Great Resignation,” I have never felt greater support from a group of educators. This staff has never wavered in their commitment to keep children safe and to move their education forward regardless of the challenges of changing opinions and changing science. And they have distanced themselves from the noise of the media, and focused on doing what is best for kids based on the data they were provided. Had we lost one more teacher this week, it would have meant sending at least a class home. Monday looks slightly better, but who knows what the weekend will bring. Regardless, I have no doubt that this group of educators will find a way to make it work as they have done for two years of pandemic. At any point, if you have any COVID related questions or concerns, please reach out to me directly or come by for coffee and a discussion in person. I do not have all the answers but I am happy to explain our logic.

Webinar Series
As you may know, we are partnering with John Broderick and Jeff Levin in their Reconnection Project that addresses anxiety in children. This winter, they are offering a series of webinars with parents from all over the country. The first webinar was earlier this week, but they provided me with a recording of the event and the link is below. As the series continues we will send the live links to the community.

Reconnection Project Parent Webinar #1:

Thank You 4th Graders
Today, two 4th graders arrived in my office with a blue folder. Inside the folder were pages and pages of signed petitions urging me to call a snow day on Monday. If you have read this far in the update, you probably have a sense for what was on my mind today. But here come two 4th graders representing their school with a sincere plea for an additional day for more “Snowball fights and sledding.” Yes, there were even faculty signatures on the petition, but we will deal with them separately. The 4th graders even checked the weather later in the week and added “Unfortunately, next Thursday is going to be warm.” I also enjoyed the fact that the petition allowed you to select who you were most excited to throw a snowball at and I was only named once…Thanks again Clement!!!  The student put together a very sharp argument. I did not make any commitments, but I did hear a report on the news that most plow companies are operating at about 50 percent capacity due to COVID cases, and there is a great deal of concern about keeping up with this storm. Thank you 4th graders for doing extra work that was brilliantly kind. Fingers crossed for 36 inches!!!

Enjoy the snow and stay safe.

Ever Grateful,

Todd Eveleth
Head of School

Nantucket New School