We look forward to welcoming students and faculty back to campus tomorrow for the first time since winter break.
We have reached a dynamic and important moment in the course of the pandemic. As you can see on the NCDHHS COVID-19 Dashboard, rates of community transmission are higher now than they have been at any point. While our faculty and staff are eager to see your children in person and cheered by the prospect of vaccination in the coming months, we are also acutely cognizant of the risks of in-person schooling and our dependence on the cooperation of every DA family and student.
We continue to put our trust in the protective protocols that prevented on-campus transmission in 2020. These include the 3 W’s (wearing masks, washing hands and waiting 6 feet apart). Equally important — especially this month — are the alertness of students, parents, faculty and staff to symptoms and the commitment to stay home when sick or potentially exposed to COVID-19.
We’ve been clear about our expectations that families keep students home after travel. I sent these expectations to all DA families on Dec. 11, 18 and 31 and Jan. 4. Division directors Christian Hairston-Randleman, Carolyn Ronco, Jon Meredith and Lanis Wilson repeated them in their communications last Sunday and today.
Whether you traveled or not, please do not come to campus if you or your child displays any symptoms of COVID-19. Consult your physician and/or call the Durham County COVID-19 Hotline at 919-635-8150 (staffed Monday-Friday from 8:30 a.m. to 5 p.m) or the NCDHHS Hotline at 1-866-462-3821. In the event of a positive diagnosis in any household, parents and colleagues should contact Gem Gates immediately, as per the DA Community Health Compact. We have also shared protocols that families should follow in the cases of COVID-19 diagnosis, symptoms or exposure here.
Our Administrative Team and medical advisors were glad to see the low positivity rate for COVID-19 tests performed on campus this week: 11 of 748 or 1.47% positive. That rate is slightly lower than that of our post-Thanksgiving sessions (when 9 of 603 or 1.49% were positive) and roughly equivalent to what UNC and Duke Health are seeing in their asymptomatic patients.
Please note that all DA testing sessions were open to parents, other household members, and members of the wider community. If we choose to have another fully-remote week after Spring Break, we will make that decision and announcement by January 29 at the latest and work with Express Test NC to offer another round of on-campus testing during that remote week.
We appreciate your flexibility during our remote week (a challenge for working parents, especially after two weeks of winter break) and remain grateful for the attentive, careful collaboration that keeps us learning safely on campus.
Gem Gates, Nurse Consultant
Michael Ulku-Steiner, Head of School