Dear ASFM community,
Did any of you watch those silly Transformer movies? The bad guy transformer is Megatron and he wants to wipe out planet earth and his arch rival, Optimus Prime. Fortunately, Optimus Prime decides that humans are worth saving so he and his team battle Megatron to the death.
Everytime I hear somebody say Omicron I think we are fighting against the equivalent Megatron. Of course, we know how the movie ends, right? Optimus eventually crushes Megatron’s head. We will crush Omicron, but it will take every member of the ASFM family working together and about a month’s time to win this battle.
As I write this letter to you today we have 80% of our school community IN school; we will continue to put most of our resources towards in-person learning. Of course, the challenge is on any given day, we are not sure how many teachers we will have. This is affecting everyone. ELEM is missing 27 members of their staff. Fortunately most of the homeroom teachers are present, but this is still a major challenge. Our maintenance and cleaning staff is reduced by more than half. The teachers and staff are working extra hard these days and have all the same challenges you face..
Of the ASOMEX league of schools only three of them are offering a full in-person experience–most are online. Many of the ASOMEX schools opened and then closed immediately. We’re open. We’re open because of our rigorous PCR testing program and your collective support for our health protocols.
As you all might guess, I receive a lot of email and so do our teachers, staff and administration. Please stay up to date with our communication channels and read the Weekly Eagle. We’re trying hard to ensure all of our most important information is launched here. We will be offering an open virtual forum for parents next Wednesday. I should have next week’s COVID data by then!
I’ve been asked why we are not offering more online options for the 20% of our students at home. The simple answer is that we are prioritizing in-person learning, and the majority of the student population at home right now will be back to school next week. We have asked our teachers to make their assignments available online, as well as to be open to scheduling time with their students on Zoom. Another common email I receive asks me to investigate families who might have children in school when one member of the family at home is COVID positive. I ask you to refrain from making judgements about other families as it is always the case that each circumstance has many variables. In addition, I will not be sneaking into peoples’ homes! Instead, I will continue to ask you to commit to sharing the responsibility to make in-person learning possible for all students. We must improve our fidelity to the health protocols–give up large social gatherings for the next two weeks.
If a family has a positive case at home and/or a member of the family has cold symptoms, then it’s your duty to stay home and isolate. We only win against Omicron if we are working together as a community. Individual needs are subordinate to the needs of our community.
We are probably close to the peak of this virus so it could take another three weeks to bring our community rate of transmission back to below 1%. Remember on December 13th, right before the holidays, we recorded zero positive COVID cases. We began the school year with an approximate transmission rate close to 2%. Together we nearly eliminated positive cases in our school bubble for more than six weeks. It took all of us, but we did it!
If you look at just the positivity rate in our PCR testing pools now, we are running a positivity rate of approximately 3%. This is well above where we want to be. These positive cases are asymptomatic and have not knowingly been in close contact with a COVID positive person. Thankfully, the PCR test is sensitive so we are screening out these asymptomatic cases before they get into school.
For people testing in the priority tent, which are those that are close contacts to a COVID positive person or are presenting symptoms, we’re seeing a positive rate of approximately 12%. Lots of families are now using our priority tent to test other members of their families. Let’s thank BioSafety for prioritizing ASFM families! I don’t know if you’ve tried getting a COVID test right now in Monterrey, but it’s nearly impossible.
If we limit the scope for determining the overall transmission rate of our community to just those people who have been pool tested (and been retested) and add that number to our absenteeism from class, then we would estimate our community COVID transmission rate to be between 4 - 5%. Let’s face it, most of the common cold symptoms we are seeing are, in fact, Omicron. In short, before school can feel somewhat normal we need to drop our transmission rate back to where it was on December 13th.
Still, don’t forget, 80% of our students are in school right now–we’re winning. Mega-Omicron will fall. The only way we will drive down our transmission rate and increase our number of students on campus is if we as a community dramatically reduce the amount of social activity we do. Take care of yourself, implement the health protocols and isolate when necessary. Keep a low profile for the next two weeks and ASFMcron will beat Omicron.