“Past performance is no guarantee of future results.” The mutual fund companies offer this disclaimer. And so do we, when the topic is COVID-19 in the Providence Academy community! Last Monday I shared the good news that during January, PA had but one diagnosed community case. Based on this information, we made the decision to send Upper School students back to classrooms each period instead of continuing our “in-school hybrid” model. The near absence of cases had eliminated occasions of close-contact quarantining for a whole month. Reducing the risk of such quarantining is the rationale for the in-school hybrid learning model. Especially with winter sports and other activities underway, widespread close-contact quarantining takes a toll on students’ ability to participate as fully as we all want them to be able to.
Well, during the week just ended we posted five new confirmed cases, most in the Upper School. I hasten to add we have no evidence the new cases were either caused by students returning to classrooms or transmitted in classrooms. Most new cases are concentrated among students participating in State High School League-sanctioned activities together outside of classes–activities inescapably involving closer contact. As of today, we have returned the Upper School to the in-school hybrid model in order again to reduce the risk of broader student quarantining.
Our currently diagnosed students are reporting a range of symptoms, from asymptomatic to very mild to moderate.
At this point in our community’s experience with this virus, it’s helpful to reiterate the importance of keeping kids at home and out of extracurricular activities if they report or are exhibiting any symptoms of seasonal illnesses. Our experience suggests that for teenagers, a single symptom can be worth getting checked out, if there’s any sense of a possible recent exposure. COVID tests are now readily available, and we do our families and school community good service by confirming, quickly, whether an individual has COVID. It is, understandably, tempting for us to want to hasten to “get back to normal.” Perhaps ironically, the more we follow sometimes-irritating-yet reasonable precautions and diagnostic protocols, the more normally we can live here right now.