Out With the Old, In With the New?

01-02-2022Nurse's LetterShannon David, RN, NCSN

With the dawning of the New Year, there is a strong desire to discard things of “old” and start fresh and new. That is no more evident than in the ongoing Pandemic! Around the time of Fall Break, we were very optimistic that once January 2022 arrived we would be able to discard some of the infection control strategies we have gotten used to over the past two years. Adopting a “mask optional” policy in lieu of the current, very limited, requirements for masking (outlined in Smart, Healthy, Holy - August 2021) was a consideration. However, the emergence of the latest coronavirus variant (Omicron) has provided reason to stay with the current practices and protocols.

With regard to the Omicron variant, the numbers change daily and vary by geography. Genetic sequencing, in Arizona, done by T-Gen (outbreak.info) found that COVID infections due to the Omicron variant increased from 1% on December 5th to 52% on December 25, 2021. The Omicron variant was able to do in a span of days what it took the highly transmissible Delta variant weeks to do. Yet, it is too early to tell if the Omicron variant will overtake the Delta variant as the predominant strain in Arizona or how it will impact our community. This past week, the CDC announced changes to isolation and quarantine guidelines for the public.

Though the School Health Team took a break for Christmas, Maricopa County Department of Public Health issued this statement, “We acknowledge there are questions remaining about how this updated guidance will impact K-12 schools, children who are not yet eligible to receive boosters, and high risk congregate settings such as nursing homes, homeless shelters, and correctional facilities. We anticipate CDC will clarify their recommendations and will update as we learn more.” (Coronavirus disease (COVID-19) - Maricopa County, AZ).

From the outset of this Pandemic, our top priority has been keeping students in class, and safe, with an uninterrupted learning experience. This has not changed. When we returned to school in August, we were faced with navigating the challenges posed with the emergence and spread of the Delta variant. Though we saw more cases of COVID from August to December 2021, than had been seen the entire school year prior, there was no case of school based transmission. We are committed to navigating the challenges that may come with the Omicron variant and are confident in our ability to do so–we have nearly two years of success to draw upon! At this time, we will continue to adhere to our established protocols and look forward to the day that they will become a thing of the past. Until that time, please continue to do a Daily Screening for your child/children prior to school each day. If you have any questions regarding their fitness for school, please contact the Nurse’s Office.

Please accept my heartfelt thanks for the outpouring of love and kindness shown to me in the weeks leading up to Christmas! The morning after the Christmas Program, when I walked into my wonderfully decorated office, I was reminded of how incredible this community is and how very blessed I am to be part of it! From the very generous FFT gift to the many cards, treats and gifts, I cannot thank you enough.