Dear ASFM Community,
We did it! Again, thank you for committing to supporting our community by your willingness to adhere to the PCR testing program.
We now have four consecutive weeks with a transmission rate below 0.5%. In fact, for the past two weeks, it has been below 0.1%. It is probably accurate to say that our campus is one of the safest places you could be in all of Mexico. Our goal with our preventative testing program is to create an invisible bubble around our school community by monitoring the viral load and containing any trace of COVID before it can spread. It takes all of us to accomplish this, and we should be proud of our collective efforts. Together We Rise.
As I write this note, however, I’ll remind you of the obvious, managing COVID is imperfect. Right after I addressed the parents of nursery and first grade students on Wednesday night, I learned that we had discovered a COVID case. We immediately moved the cohort of students connected to this case online. As we celebrate the success of our invisible bubble, we also have to celebrate the success of our local mitigation efforts. I reminded our parents on Wednesday that the days of giving your child some aspirin and sending them to school are over. If your son or daughter is not feeling well, no matter the results of the PCR test, you must keep them home or risk breaking the bubble.
I promised that our testing program would evolve, and it will. After four weeks of testing the campus population and in consideration of our very low transmission rate, we are moving to a randomized selection for testing. We will continue to test a significant portion of each grade level, each week. This strategy will provide us the needed data to monitor our viral load, keeping us safe while allowing us to concentrate our efforts on supporting students’ learning.
Each week we will randomly select students from each grade level to test. As this process is randomized, it is possible that some students may have to test on consecutive weeks, while others may not. Rest assured that we will get a good picture of what is happening within grade levels, and all students will test at some point. We will closely monitor the transmission rate. If we see an increase in transmission rate within the school, a division, or grade level, we will require more people to test each week.
The health and safety of our community is a collective responsibility. We will continue sharing the cost of the ongoing random testing program across all families. Families will be charged 225 pesos weekly for each student enrolled at ASFM. If we have to increase the testing numbers, the price will rise as well. We share in creating our protective bubble, so we must share the cost of maintaining it. We will continue, however, to test everybody after long weekends. Again, without sacrificing accuracy, we are trying to be cost conscious and deliver a secure bubble while also managing the cost.
We are excited by what we have been able to accomplish so far, but we have just begun. We continue to partner with local authorities to identify how we might be able to return to full on-campus learning. On Thursday the government announced we could extend the hours and raise the number of students on campus slightly. Before making big changes in our schedule, we will wait to see how things evolve with the newly elected politicians taking office the week after next. Frankly, what we really need, given our near zero COVID transmission rate, is to be able to dramatically increase the number of students on campus as well as the number of instruction hours. Giving us one more hour and raising capacity is a start, but we need greater flexibility.
I will miss greeting you on Monday as I’m returning from NY where I serve as a trustee at a school and am attending Board meetings, however, you can look forward to a little gift which we will hand out while you cruise through the PCR stations! You have to come to get it!