Dear Harbor Families,
As COVID cases are increasing rapidly in our nation and our region, our Health and Safety Committee is carefully monitoring the situation in our specific community of Harbor families, faculty, and staff. Our goal is to remain in person for as long as it is possible to do so safely.
In addition to tracking the local data in Montgomery County, we are using specific data corresponding to the zip codes where each of our families, faculty, and staff live. This analysis allows us to find a daily weighted average of the Harbor community. As we continue to track these metrics, we are asking for your cooperation in some additional strategies to mitigate risk for the Harbor community.
REGULAR COMMUNITY TESTING
In response to the concerning state-wide metrics at this time, we have decided to implement regular COVID-19 testing of our students, faculty and staff as an additional risk-mitigation strategy. Beginning next week, we will be asking a third of our community (students, faculty, and staff) to obtain a PCR test each week, which will provide us with a regular sampling of the school and each cohort each week, and to test each member of the Harbor community every three weeks. The school will provide information regarding testing sites so that families can make their own arrangements during their child’s assigned testing week, including utilizing the County’s free testing facilities if preferred. More information about this strategy as an additional layer of protection will be shared soon, including the testing schedule.
OUR COMMUNITY PLEDGE
We have all been hearing about, and possibly experiencing, COVID fatigue. For us to achieve our goal of in-person learning for as long as possible, it is imperative that each of us continue to be vigilant about our practices outside of school. Please take the time to review the Community Wellness Pledge that we all signed at the beginning of the year and reaffirm that your practices are in line with the pledge. We know this may require us to make some sacrifices during the upcoming holidays.
TRAVEL and OUT-OF-TOWN GUESTS
This week, Governor Hogan imposed stricter regulations in an attempt to slow down the spread of COVID-19 in Maryland, where cases have been rising quickly. He stated explicitly that travel plans to states with spiking metrics should be postponed or canceled. As you consider, or reconsider, your plans for Thanksgiving, please refer to our travel and out-of-town guests policy:
All non-essential travel is highly discouraged. If a family/household member must travel, plans must be communicated with the school. If travel to or out-of-town guests are from a state with a positivity rate of 10% or higher or a daily new case average of 20/100,000 residents or higher, they must be tested 72 hours after returning from travel, or after the last contact with the guest - and self-isolate until receiving results. The District of Columbia and the Commonwealth of Virginia are exempt from this requirement.
In addition, we are requiring that every family complete this survey regarding travel and out-of-town guests. This will allow us to plan for distance learning accommodations for families who are testing and isolating while awaiting test results. Please note that our policy now specifies that families must wait 72 hours following travel or last contact with out-of-town guests before obtaining a test.
While we are preparing for the possibility that we may be distance learning at some point, we are also aware that as a small school with young learners, we are in a better position than many schools to remain in person. There is emerging research that suggests that transmission in schools, especially those that have strong safety practices, is minimal. The recent positive case in our community has affirmed our strong safety protocols; we have received all but one of the test results we are awaiting - and all have been negative. (We will inform you once the last test result comes in.)
One of our teachers recently put a sign on our faculty room door that reads “We can’t direct the wind, but we can adjust our sails”. When I saw it on Monday morning after a long couple of days, it brought a tear to my eye. At Harbor, we are skilled at working together to adjust our sails to navigate rough waters. I have no doubt that we will continue to do so in the weeks and months ahead.
Head of School