Dear DA Community,
As many of you know, today the CDC revised its guidelines regarding PK-12 school operations. We are currently reviewing the implications for Durham Academy for the remainder of this school year and beyond.
For several months, we have been anticipating this updated guidance and have engaged in discussion (internally and with our team of medical advisors) about potential implications for daily school operations. Today’s news is an encouraging signal that we are moving forward toward a return to normalcy. This development further strengthens our commitment to having 100% of our students on campus five days a week starting in August.
In our discussions over the coming days, we will apply the same rigorous, careful, methodical approach that we have since the pandemic began. Our guiding principles and our goal of zero on-campus transmissions remain at the forefront of our thinking. As we have before, we will balance the shared desire to return to the best possible learning environment for our students, faculty and staff with the safety precautions that protect their health and wellness.
Early next week, we will convene our team of medical advisors to discuss this updated guidance and to evaluate the options it might afford us, keeping in mind those options will likely vary by division. Our Administrative Team and medical advisors will be mindful of the following considerations:
- Many faculty/staff have not yet received the second injections of their COVID-19 vaccinations (full protection does not begin until two weeks after those second shots).
- With 10 weeks left in the school year, we want to leverage established routines and maximize instructional time.
- Changes to safety protocols take time. Establishing new habits requires careful planning, orientation and practice.
- The CDC’s revised guidelines recommend that teachers maintain 6 feet of distance from students and each other.
- Increasing the number of students on campus has significant implications for supervision, staffing and safety. Keeping children distanced at 3 feet remains a demanding logistical task.
- The revised CDC social distancing guidelines cover only classroom settings and do not refer to other parts of the school day that will still require 6-foot distancing (lunch, passing periods, assemblies, club meetings, athletics and other informal settings). They also make clear distinctions between elementary schools and middle/high schools.
Today’s announcement is an important milestone in the arc of the pandemic. Once again we thank you for your patience, flexibility and collaboration — among the key ingredients that have allowed us to be in school safely for seven months.
Gem Gates, Nurse Consultant