Lower School Return to Campus Update

Suzanne Atkins

Dear Lower School Parents,

As we approach the Winter Break, we are seeing  that Covid cases are continuing to rise. Based on information we have at this time, we need to update you on a revision to our on-campus return dates.  Pre-K and Kindergarten students are scheduled to return to campus on January 5th as planned.  Grades 1-4 will now continue with distance learning until January 12th, at which time they will also return to on-campus learning. After much discussion with our staff and assessing the data related to different age groups and Covid transmission, our teachers and administrators feel focusing on bringing back our youngest children first will allow for the same ease of transition we had in the Fall. Dr. John O'Horo, an infectious disease specialist with the Mayo Clinic stated the following in a late October Washington Post article: "very small kids are not very efficient at transmitting virus the way that older kids and adults are." Please see the following for further information regarding Covid and young children:

Mayo Clinic: Covid-19 in Babies and Children

Washington Post: Covid-19 and Child Care-What the Latest Research Says

Yale Study: Child Care Has Not Contributed to Spread of Covid

As with everything related to the pandemic, this is our plan and our hope, rather than our guarantee. If Massachusetts enters another lockdown and/or we continue to see significant community spread in Essex County and Rockingham County, our re-entry dates could change. If upon our return, we have Covid cases on campus, a 10 day campus closure (at the minimum) may happen at that time. While schools have not been the super-spreader environments that we feared they could become, school spread is becoming more prevalent due to larger and more significant spread in the communities where schools reside. 

We do not make these decisions lightly. We want to be on-campus with our students and to ensure their well-being. We want our teachers to remain safe and well. Our goal is to get through this winter and spring much like we did the Fall--without having to have an emergency campus closure and keeping the members of our community healthy and happy. 

In order to keep our school safe, we need to work together. These are the Massachusetts travel requirements. With the holiday season upon us, we realize that some families may make choices to travel. Some families may attend indoor, unmasked events outside of their homes. As such, Sparhawk will be adding a travel questionnaire to our daily check-in for when we return to campus. Please abide by Massachusetts travel quarantine regulations if you do travel during the holidays. We ask that families that travel out of their home state over the holidays do not return to school (regardless of scheduled start date) unless they have met the Massachusetts travel quarantine regulations (14 day quarantine or produce a negative Covid-19 test taken within 72 hours of your return to Massachusetts). Currently, the only low risk state is Hawaii. 

We thank you for your support in keeping our school and your families safe. We look forward to brighter days ahead.

Sincerely, 

Suzanne Atkins and Kaitlyn MacDonald