October 14, 2020
Dear ASD Staff,
I hope those of you who participated in yesterday’s conversation with the Department of Public Health enjoyed the session and came away better informed about COVID-19 and the recommended safety protocols. I am grateful to Thomas St. Louis and Dr. Lynn Sosa from the CT Department of Public Health, as well as Aimee Krauss from our local West Hartford/Bloomfield Public Health Department for taking time to meet with us and answer so many questions directly from our staff!
Student Health Center
I am pleased to report that ASD’s campus remains free from COVID-19. We are aware of several students who are currently experiencing upper respiratory symptoms consistent with fall colds. These students are not presenting with fevers and are being closely monitored by the Student Health Center.
Connecticut’s COVID-19 positive test rate has increased to 2.4% in recent days. This increase was discussed during yesterday’s public health webinar, and it seems that this increase is stemming from small gatherings. Aimee Krauss also reported that should individuals within the same household become infected with the virus, each individual is counted separately. For example, if a family of four becomes infected with COVID-19, four separate positive cases are reported rather than one case for the entire family. The State is monitoring the increase and public health officials are reminding everyone that the best way to mitigate the spread of the virus is by following the established safety protocols, including wearing masks and practicing social distancing.
Health Screening Protocols
We have had several internal discussions regarding the continuation of health screening protocols for students on campus. As you know, staff will no longer be required to participate in the daily health screening process after next Monday, October 20th. However, because some of our students are unable to clearly communicate if they are feeling ill, temperature screenings for students will continue beyond October 20th.
Should a student present with an elevated temperature upon arriving to school, that student will remain at the temperature check site until a nurse can meet him/her and evaluate further. Should you have any questions, please do not hesitate to contact Andrea Dillon.
In regard to the staff health screening questionnaire, we have received reports that not all staff are reporting their travel honestly when completing the form. I am asking all staff to please be honest when answering the health screening questionnaire, especially regarding out-of-state travel. Not doing so jeopardizes the health and safety of our students and staff. If you have recently traveled to a state listed in the CT travel advisory as a “hot spot,” you are required to undergo a COVID-19 test either 72 hours before returning to Connecticut, or within 72 hours of your return.
Our cafeteria procedures have been re-evaluated and will be modified going forward to prevent students from congregating together while waiting for their meal. Beginning immediately, students will enter the cafeteria through the door across from the library and go directly to a table of their choice. Students will then be directed to the food service line by table.
ASD continues to evaluate the feasibility of hosting winter sports this year. The question has been asked about whether we will hold winter sports, and if so, whether games would begin in December or January. We will hold off on making a decision in order to monitor the progress of the pandemic.
Holiday Student Travel
Every year, several of our PACES students return home for both the Thanksgiving holiday and the December winter break. We are currently evaluating the feasibility of students returning home for Thanksgiving, especially those students who must fly home and travel to a state listed on the CT travel advisory as a “hot spot”. Because the Thanksgiving break is only a few days in duration, we are discussing whether it is feasible for students to return home for that short time only to then be required to quarantine for two weeks upon their return to ASD. In regard to the December break, we are considering allowing students to return to campus during the second week of the break to begin their quarantine. Doing so would allow students the opportunity to participate in one week of online learning (rather than two) during their second week of quarantine. A final decision has not yet been made regarding student travel for either the Thanksgiving holiday or the December break. Regardless of the decision, however, decisions will also be made for each student on a case-by-case basis as necessary.
We will soon be resuming family visits on campus. Visiting hours will begin Friday afternoon (after school) and will continue through the weekend. Family visits will be kept to a two-hour time limit, and as the weather gets colder, these visits will move to the Student Lounge. Tables will be set-up for these visits and cleaned after each family’s visit. A deep cleaning and sanitization of the student lounge will occur on Sunday evenings and Monday mornings before the space is made available to students and staff. If you have any questions, please contact Kristin Feldman.
Thank you for all you do to keep our students happy, healthy and safe. Enjoy the rest of your week!