As the Omicron variant of COVID-19 spreads like wildfire, schools must adapt to what we will once again call the new normal. As of Jan. 10, Broward County is reporting 7,179 new cases per day, and that number is still on the rise.
Dec. 31, Dr. Laurie issued an email saying that Heritage will be continuing all of its previous policies, including the indoor mask policy, Magnus symptom daily tracking app, hourly fogging of facilities, UV ionizing filtration system and providing hand sanitizing stations across campus. The email also reports that Heritage will follow the new CDC guideline of a five day quarantine after testing positive as long as the infected individual no longer has any symptoms. The school nurses can also determine when a student is allowed to return to class.
For students who test positive or are quarantining at home due to exposure, they have short-term access to the flex program. The program was created this year for special circumstances, such as international students getting stuck in a different county or major surgeries. These students still have to abide by the rules: they must have internet, wear school uniform and be in a quiet, appropriate location. Teachers have been told to update Planbook often and record their classes for absent students.
“[For flex learning], the nurses must tell us that someone is quarantined due to a COVID exposure/positive COVID test – it isn’t as instantaneous as it was last year,” Mrs. Blum said. “[So far, it has] worked great but will hopefully settle down as we want kids in the classroom. We are telling teachers to keep Planbook updated and post recordings to help the people at home.”
In regards to school trips and events, not everything is set in stone. Proof of either a negative test or vaccination card is still required for all school trips. The fine arts All State Convention trip to Tampa is still on as of right now, but the MUN UPENN trip is up to the advisors and members to decide if they still want to go.
Senior events are still scheduled to take place, but the school is waiting to see what happens with the pandemic as the events get closer. They may require flexibility in order to comply with the protocols though; for example, the senior breakfast could be moved outside to reduce crowding.
With booster vaccines now available for 12-15 year olds, there hopefully is a light at the end of the tunnel for all strands of COVID-19. Until it is ended once and for all, keep your masks on and your friends at least six feet away.