A Familiar Tune

07-25-2021Nurse's LetterShannon David, RN, NCSN

Yesterday, All my troubles seemed so far away. Now it looks as though they're here to stay... (Yesterday, Lennon/McCartney)

When school was dismissed on May 27, 2021 for summer break, many left asking if things would be back to “normal” in the 2021-22 school year or if mitigation measures in response to the Pandemic would still be necessary. At that time, it was too soon to tell. We committed to monitoring the situation over the summer months, remaining up to date on current public health guidelines, and developing a plan of action that allows for the formation and education of our students in a safe environment.

Very briefly, in Maricopa County, the 7-day average case count for new COVID infections was 336 cases on May 28, 2021. On July 20, 2021 it was 793. This significant rise in case counts correlates with the emergence of the Delta (B.1.617.2) strain of the coronavirus, a highly contagious variant. On July 5, 2021, the Delta variant accounted for 20% of new COVID infections in the US. On July 12, 2021, 50% of new cases were due to the variant and currently 80% of new cases have been attributed to the Delta variant. In Maricopa County, there has been a 45% increase in infections among those 25-44 years of age. Since December 2020, when COVID vaccines were first administered, more than 98% of ALL COVID infections are in those who are unvaccinated (https://phdata.maricopa.gov/Dashboard).

According to public health officials, vaccination is recognized as the leading public health prevention strategy to prevent transmission of COVID-19. Because individuals under 12 years of age are not currently eligible for COVID-19 vaccines (80.8% of OLMC students) other prevention strategies are necessary to protect all unvaccinated individuals in schools. To this end, the CDC recently updated Guidance for K-12 Schools and on July 15, 2021, Maricopa County Department of Public Health’s School Health Team resumed weekly meetings with school health personnel. Based on guidance from MCDPH, an assessment of the attributes and risks within our community, and an evaluation of our experiences of the very successful 2020-21 school year, the “Smart, Healthy & Holy: Guidelines for Our Lady of Mt. Carmel School - August 2021” has been developed. Please take the time to read the full 7-page document prior to the beginning of school on August 10, 2021- Smart, Healthy & Holy - August 2021.

The main points are here:

  1. There will be a resumption of “normal” school activities--extracurricular clubs, sports, special school events, access to the library and fine arts classroom.
  2. Masks are not necessary for anyone when outdoors, engaged in physical movement activities, eating, drinking or more than 3 feet away from another person.
  3. Masks will be necessary when indoors, in close proximity to one another (less than 3 feet), engaged in “face-to-face” play, or close conversations. 
  4. The emphasis on hand hygiene established last school year, with time built into the day for hand washing, will continue.
  5. Parameters for physical distancing have been updated in accordance with CDC guidelines.
  6. Implementation of recommended cleaning protocols will continue.
  7. Parents/guardians are asked to continue to perform a daily screening of their student for illness before coming to school each day.

Ideally, we would like to begin the upcoming school year without any restrictions. However, we need to be prudent in our response to the current situation and recognize that those who are unvaccinated are those who need protection. This challenge is minimal in comparison to the challenges we faced in August 2020. And, we know, TOGETHER - Home & School - WE CAN DO IT!

When I find myself in times of trouble, Mother Mary comes to me...(Let It Be, McCartney/Lennon). Our Lady of Mt. Carmel, pray for us!