March 10, 2022

Dear Harbor Families,

With community case numbers continuing to decline, recent updates in CDC guidance, changing protocols in peer and local schools, and still no new cases in the Harbor community, we are writing to share our next steps in "dimming" our COVID-19 protocols as a school.

As you know, students in JK through grade 3 have had the option to remove their masks outdoors starting this past Monday. This transition has been smooth overall, with many students comfortable removing them and others choosing to keep them on at times (especially on colder days).

Monday, March 14:

  • Beginning this Monday, students in JK through grade 3 can choose to remove masks indoors in classroom settings only and when in class cohorts. This phased approach supports our focus on social and emotional development and is consistent with the thoughtful and student-centered way we helped children learn to wear masks in September of 2020. Teachers will help to facilitate a gradual experience for the students, discussing, modeling, and practicing the social skills involved, such as using facial expression for communication - as well as facilitating discussions about making personal choices and respecting others’ choices. 
  • Given that many of our preschool students are not yet eligible for the vaccine, our youngest students will continue to wear masks in all settings for the time being. In addition, to practice empathy and a caring approach in our community, JK through grade 3 students will wear masks when interacting with our preschool students indoors.

Sunday, March 27:

With spring break approaching and with our travel policy no longer in place, we are utilizing our testing dimmer switch and are asking each family to please test your child with an antigen test on Sunday, March 27 before returning to school on Monday. The school will send home test kits in students’ backpacks next week for this purpose.  We will not require families to email results but appreciate your support in this additional measure for our community to help control for any potential positive cases; we will email a reminder that Sunday.

Thursday, March 31:

Following our weekly testing on the Wednesday after returning from spring break, we will adjust the masking dimmer switch in the following ways, unless conditions change:

  • For students in JK through grade 3, students will be able to make their own masking decisions throughout their day, including in the hallways, at arrival and dismissal, and in extended day care. Next week’s gradual experience with removing masks indoors in their classroom settings will provide the practice and experience for this next step. Please note that older students should still bring a mask to school which they will wear when interacting with preschoolers indoors.
  • Preschool students will be able to remove masks outdoors beginning on this date. This transition will be carefully facilitated by the teachers in coordination with parents.

Our weekly testing dimmer switch will continue to remain fully in the “on” position, which will allow us to monitor and ensure that cases are detected should that occur.  In the event of an exposure in a JK-3 classroom, although vaccinated students will not be required to quarantine, students will return to mask-wearing for ten days, in accordance with CDC guidelines.

We realize that this  transition represents a change in the way students have been interacting in the past two years, and that each family’s approach and response to these developments will vary. As an inclusive community, we encourage you to talk to your kids about the fact that the removal of masks is a personal and family choice, and that each family/child’s decision should be respected.

Please be in touch with your child’s teacher should you wish to discuss your child’s experience. As always, I am available to discuss any questions or concerns you may have.

Best regards,

Leah Musico

Head of School

Harbor School