Dear Wissahickon Staff and Families,
I am writing to provide an update on the district’s COVID-19 Health & Safety Plan.
As you know, we have had a Board-approved Health & Safety Plan in place all year, and I think it’s fair to say we have been very good, if not perfect, in keeping our schools open, adequately staffed and safe for operation. While we will continue to have a universal indoor masking requirement in place while local transmission levels are high or substantial, a number of minor changes are set to go into effect on 1/24/22 (the first day of Semester 2). The most salient of those changes have to do with our very highly treasured, yet also optional, activities such as interscholastic sports and performing arts. In those optional, after-school activities, both athletes AND performers will now be able to remove their masks, should they desire, while competing/performing. Mask requirements are still in effect while not actually competing/performing (e.g., on the bench, backstage, etc.). Also, while masks will still be required of all student and adult visitors/spectators while inside our buildings, capacity limits for spectators/audience members are returning to normal.
Also, the Montgomery County Office of Public Health (OPH) recently (on 1/11/22) adjusted some of their program recommendations that touch on the protocols governing isolating and quarantining. The OPH link is provided below for the many, many details, but in an effort to keep this as simple as humanly possible, here is a Readers’ Digest version of the three main areas that are changing:
Test to Stay: This will now only be available to certain staff members on quarantine (masks are required regardless of transmission level and a test is required on each of Days 1-10).
- Mask to Stay: This modified test to stay program is new and allows certain staff and students who are exposed to COVID-19 in school or in the community, and who are asymptomatic, to continue to attend school with required mask-wearing at all times for 10 days. Here, a district-administered negative test is required on one day between Days 4-6 in order to continue to stay in school.
Contact Tracing: This will continue, but only for close contact occurring in the cafeteria and in “high risk” activities such as sports and singing. It will no longer occur in the classroom setting where individuals are masked and socially distanced, nor will it occur in buses.
I know these changes make an already complicated situation even harder to understand. I am sorry about that—I wish it were possible to keep things simple, but it’s a pandemic so simple is evidently just not possible. For more details on the OPH guidelines, click here. Also, if you have any specific questions about your school or your child’s situation, please do not hesitate to contact your school principal or nurse.
As always, thank you for your continued understanding and support. Our continued goal is to keep schools both open and safe.
Jim Crisfield, Superintendent