We saw a drop in new community cases last week, our fifth together in school. Reported symptoms remain mild to moderate. New cases were distributed among the divisions and grades, with the exception of three occurrences in one Lower School classroom. In-school transmission was likely in this instance. While we do not have concentrations elsewhere, it is possible some other cases may have been contracted in school or school activities; it’s hard to tell, since our kids are tending to be living normal lives both in and out of school.

School transmissions, we should note, are happening throughout the state. Last Friday the Star Tribune reported, “Minnesota on Thursday reported 2,071 coronavirus infections linked to pre-K-12 school buildings in the week ending September 18, an increase from 977 the previous week and the first weekly count above 2,000 in the pandemic.” The paper also noted what we have long known: “Children are at lower risks of severe Covid-19.” The hospitalization graphs we have been sharing in this space illustrate that the risks are far, far lower for school-age children than for any other age cohort–lower in fact than for many seasonal flus.

Colleagues and I made an anecdotal observation the other day. If our current end-of-September and early October experience were transposed onto 2019, 2018, or pretty much any year prior to that, we would not be noticing anything unusual about frequency or severity of early autumn sickness at school. Respiratory illnesses such as colds, RSV, and Covid, as well as other ailments, are hitting the community the way they usually do (minus the novel coronavirus which is now in the mix). Kids and staff members are going home, getting well, and coming back with bolstered immune systems, as they always have. The difference this fall has to do with the unique internal tracking of one illness, and the new and unprecedented Covid-era policies and absence-from-school criteria.

I want to share with you that those criteria and other Covid Year 2 factors create additional demands for our faculty and staff members. For community health and many reasons, faculty members were hopeful that last year was “one and done” for Covid. (Okay, we all were similarly hopeful!) When teachers themselves are out of school either with an illness or for a quarantine, new demands are put on colleagues who must pitch in, even where non-regular-faculty substitute teachers are brought on board. In Middle and Upper Schools, full-time faculty members often sub classes on an “overload” basis. And SimulClassroom arrangements require more of faculty members; in Lower School, much more. I am so grateful to the faculty and staff, as I am sure you are too: they are providing a full range of normal-year experiences, with full arts and athletics programming and before- and after-school activities, all while following non-normal Covid expectations for a second year. Thanks to you, on their behalf, for your appreciation and understanding under demanding circumstances.

Our “COVID Time Health Policies 2021-22” webpage contains a new message on Covid testing, as follows: “If you test a child for COVID, please email the results, positive or negative, to the school’s health office ().” Thank you. This is helpful to our overall understanding of the local situation.

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