Boston Latin School notified parents tonight of a recent spike in Covid-19 cases - 36 over the past week, with most of them being reported just today.
The timing, right before Christmas break, at least, is fortuitous: Last month, BPS and city health officials shut the Curley School in Jamaica Plain following an outbreak there.
In an e-mail, BLS Head of School Rachel Skerritt wrote:
The uptick and clustering of positive cases in just the last two days is extremely concerning. There are 36 new cases reported this week, with the majority of those reported just today. Many of these cases are the result of unmasked or improperly masked contact between students outside of school time, including weekend social events and contact amongst some of our athletic teams. Most of our cases this week have involved students in the upper grades. Very few of our cases to date this year have been from classroom transmission, which speaks to the effectiveness of mask use and ventilation. We are in active communication with BPS Health Services as well as the Boston Public Health Commission and additional BPS departments to ensure that identified clusters and patterns are being addressed.
Skerritt continued that "each of our actions, both inside and outside of these walls, affects all of us," and urged parents to take a number of steps over the coming Christmas break:
Keep students home if they display any symptoms, even if mild, such as a sore throat, or if they express concerns about prior exposure and do not have symptoms. Most of our positive cases have exhibited only minor symptoms, particularly in our students who are fully vaccinated. Please be vigilant. Students who need to miss school, including tomorrow, December 23, will receive an excused absence if the parent or guardian completes the online student absence form. All students with an excused absence will receive full makeup privileges for any assignment or assessment that they miss, and will not be penalized in any way. If you are awaiting test results due to known contact, err on the side of caution and stay home.
Limit exposure over the winter break to those outside of your household. We know that many families are going through extensive safety measures to ensure that they can spend time with relatives, including PCR testing and quarantine. What we particularly caution against is unmasked social time among students, regardless of vaccination status. I have received messages from parents and students concerned about students’ behavior during times (such as the weekend) where we cannot control students’ and families’ choices. I am asking for your help as parents, guardians, and students to make the tough calls as we see a surge in cases across the Commonwealth and country. I am setting those same expectations for myself and my family, as well as our faculty and staff.
Also, students should save one of the two Covid-19 home tests they got today for Jan. 3, the day before school re-opens. Students across the BPS district were sent home with similar instructions for the kits they got.
This will help limit the number of positive cases when we open our doors next calendar year.