Watkinson’s plan for maintaining the health and safety of students and staff continues to follow all mandates, best practices, and current recommendations from the CDC, Connecticut State Department of Education, and the Connecticut Department of Health.
MASKING & VISITOR POLICY
As of March 24, after completing testing upon return from Spring Break, masks became optional, but all who wish to continue masking at school are encouraged to do so. This updated mask policy applies to classrooms, athletic spaces, places we gather, “conveyances” (e.g., buses, vans, etc.), and events.
As of March 30, masking is now optional for all visitors both outside on our campus and inside a Watkinson building. Visitors are strongly encouraged to maintain social distancing when with our students. As numerous end-of-year events, some indoors and some outside, are in the midst of being planned, Watkinson reserves the right to require visitors to wear masks, both indoors and outside at any event, and that decision will be informed by the data from our on-campus testing, infection levels of our surrounding community, and recommendations from the State.
DINING ROOM PROTOCOLS
Also as of March 24, dining room seating will return to pre-pandemic regular use. Additional space is always available for students who wish to spread out. With the onset of warmer weather, outdoor seating and eating is available and encouraged. Watkinson employs a high performance air purification system (similar to those used by surgical centers) in the dining room.
GENERAL LAYERED MITIGATION STRATEGY
Campus-wide, we make use of our outdoor spaces as much as possible for teaching and learning, for lunch, and for activities. We use layered mitigation strategies as reasonable in the classrooms, keeping in mind that we are striving to have both the best teaching and learning for our students while simultaneously adopting recommended health and safety measures. Mitigation strategies include added ventilation, hand sanitizing, and distance between students when sensible is to be used.
Watkinson began school-wide testing on January 11. We are partnering with Mirimus and participating in high-volume COVID-19 PCR pooled testing using simple, self administered saliva collection. Community members who have tested positive for COVID in the last 90 days are excluded from the school-wide testing and must send documentation of a positive test result (student name, date of positive test, documentation of test result) to firstname.lastname@example.org.
POST-COVID RETURN TO SCHOOL GUIDELINES
Individuals who test positive for COVID-19 should isolate at home for at least 5 days, or longer if symptoms develop or persist. A mask is required to be worn at school for an additional 5 days at all times when around others. This timeline does not apply to individuals who continue to experience any symptoms associated with COVID-19 past day 5. In these cases, the person must not return to school until they are completely symptom-free. Any questions related to readiness to return to school can be addressed to our school nurse, Kendra Wiesel.
GENERAL GUIDELINES FOR SENDING YOUR CHILD TO SCHOOL
For general purposes, when deciding to send your child(ren) to school each day:
- If your student does not feel well, please keep them at home. Contact Watkinson’s school nurse for an assessment and school attendance plans. Depending on the situation, you may be referred to your own healthcare provider for testing and/or care plan.
- If your unvaccinated student comes into contact with someone who has tested positive for COVID-19 outside of school or if your student tests positive for COVID-19, please immediately contact Watkinson’s school nurse for further guidance and keep your student at home until the situation has been assessed and a plan for return to school has been established.
- Vaccinated individuals should continue to report close contacts to the school nurse, but may proceed to school if asymptomatic. Vaccinated individuals that are close contacts should wear a mask indoors for 10 days.
- If your student has traveled internationally, please contact Watkinson’s school nurse for any appropriate guidance and protocols before your student returns to school.
- Vaccination for students is strongly encouraged and student vaccination information must be shared with Watkinson’s school nurse. The impact of a close contact causing a possible quarantine or isolation period on fully vaccinated students is much less intrusive to the educational process than for unvaccinated students.
STUDENT ATHLETE RETURN-TO-PLAY GUIDELINES
Watkinson School continues to work closely with Hartford HealthCare to review the infection data and risk concerning COVID-19 infections as it pertains to the health and safety of our student athletes. Families will be provided a risk assessment tool that will assist with determining the need for physician clearance prior to returning to athletic participation. The return-to-play process will then be individualized by the HHC Athletic Training team.