Message from our Superintendent
Exit Strategy Part 1
Dear ASFM community,
ASFMcron has crushed Omicron this week. We earned a 0.3% positivity rate, which means we have virtually no positive cases on campus; we are back to roughly the same positivity rate as we were in December just before the holidays. We are leaving Omicron in our rearview mirror. Onward. This does not mean, however, that nobody is getting COVID. We have ASFM families feeling distraught right now because they are stuck at home sick. We have a number of ASFM teachers and staff at home with COVID. We know there are already new variants threatening communities and that hospitals continue to see disportionately high numbers of sick COVID patients. Still our numbers right now are impressive and we are on the other side of Omicron.
I’ve been thinking a lot about what our exit strategy is from being so intensely focused on fighting COVID. In the service of in-person learning for all of our students we turned ASFM into the probably the largest COVID testing site anywhere in Mexico. We cannot continue to focus this level of resources on testing. We learned how to fight a pandemic, but I think it’s pretty clear that COVID will be with us forever, meaning it will become endemic, a regular feature of winter like the flu. How do we protect learning in this new environment? What responsibility does ASFM have to our students and families in an endemic? By prioritizing health we were able to keep school open when most schools were closed. Is some level of PCR testing just a new reality in keeping school open in an endemic? These questions, among others, are ones we’re thinking through.
In the short run, we are beating COVID so let’s bring back sports and afternoon activities. Starting next week we will begin offering the normal full menu of afternoon activities. Starting the week of February 21, we will bring back a Monday class schedule. No more Zoom school on Mondays! I’ve been impressed with how creative our various divisions have been in reenvisioning what a class schedule can look like. Our elementary school, for example, is going to offer a totally different approach on Mondays that emphasizes a greater level of personalization of interest for each student. I think you will find some of the changes to Mondays exciting. Maybe the new normal of Monday is better than the old normal?!
Our PCR testing strategy will move from a screening protocol to a monitoring protocol. This means we will begin in the week of February 21, to PCR testing a random sampling of students and staff. This will be a representative sample of the whole school, but we will only be testing 30-50% of the campus. A random assortment of students and staff will be tested during the academic day. We will monitor the viral load of campus and probably only will return to a screening protocol after major vacations. We will continue to rely on our partnership with families in order to ensure the safest possible environment for our children. Thank you for your partnership and resilience.
I’m always on the lookout for great sentences. I discovered this quote the other day:
“Reason, Observation and Experience — the Holy Trinity of Science — have taught us that happiness is the only good; that the time to be happy is now, and the way to be happy is to make others so.”
-Robert G. Ingersoll
We continue to follow the “Holy Trinity of Science.” We will employ Reason and follow our locally collected data. We are paying attention, and it’s our Observation that wearing a mask is working, so we will continue to require them. Our Experience is that this variant and future variants are under no obligation to mutate to a less deadly form. Honestly, Smallpox never did, and the only reason that it’s under control is because of widespread acceptance of a Smallpox vaccine. We encourage people to get vaccinated because it has been proven to be successful.
Finally, and most importantly, I believe that health and happiness come from focusing on the needs of our community.