Virtual Learning: For Two Weeks after Winter Break
December 20, 2021 • Leer en español.
Dear Creative Minds Families:
After several weeks of data analysis and much thoughtful discussion, we have decided that Creative Minds will continue with virtual learning for two weeks after winter break. This follows today’s announcement from Mayor Bowser that DC Public Schools (DCPS) will be closed on January 3 and 4 to allow students to take rapid COVID-19 tests before classes resume. (The closure does not apply to charter schools.) Among other measures, the mayor also reinstated the indoor mask mandate for businesses and declared a state of emergency through January.
Our winter break begins this Thursday, December 23, and continues through Friday, December 31.
- We will return to virtual classrooms on Monday, January 3.
- We will return to the school building on Tuesday, January 18. (Monday, January 17, is Martin Luther King Jr. Day, a holiday for staff and students.)
The reason for our decision to extend virtual learning is the health and safety of our community—the reason for so many of our decisions over the past 20 months.
As I wrote about in my announcement on December 15, we experienced a very rapid surge in COVID-19 cases after Thanksgiving. The week of November 29, there were six cases at school; this doubled to 12 cases for the week of December 6, five more cases than our previous high of seven, which we saw in the last week of September. The week of December 13 there were four cases.
The effect of each case was many community members in quarantine: last week more than 20 percent of students were excluded from school.
I know that for both staff and students, the periods of quarantine are disruptive to learning and instruction. That’s not to mention the physical and mental toll that a case of COVID-19 takes on an afflicted individual and the worry that can arise when you hear that your child is a close contact.
Our goal for the two additional weeks of virtual learning in January is to allow time for any post-holiday COVID-19 cases to be detected among staff and students, without the risk of transmission throughout our community.
We considered the DCPS approach—rapid testing on January 3 and 4—but believe that our approach is safer, and better for Creative Minds. Our own testing program has been very reliable, and we’d prefer that all students learn together in the virtual classroom, instead of some students receiving no instruction after winter break because of quarantine.
As my team and I work on a healthy start to 2022, here’s what we’re in engaged in:
We are continuing to monitor local and national COVID-19 data and are asking local authorities for updated guidance on testing and quarantine.
We are looking into setting up COVID-19 testing in the first two weeks of January to allow all community members to get tested before our return to the building. We will share more information in January.
We have been certified as a testing lab so that we can conduct rapid COVID-19 testing, as well as testing for influenza and strep throat, should someone at school display symptoms.
We are exploring whether a test-to-stay program is possible for our school. With test-to-stay, unvaccinated close contacts who experience no symptoms may stay at school by regularly testing negative for COVID-19—through a rapid test—over a period of seven days.
Whether test-to-stay is both safe and logistically feasible for Creative Minds is uncertain. We will share more information when it’s available.
Our delivery of free meals will continue during the period of virtual learning in January. If you’d like to enroll, but haven’t yet signed up, please submit the “Free-Meal Delivery” form in ParentSquare.
If your child needs a tablet or a laptop for online classes, please email firstname.lastname@example.org. Note that we have two email addresses for virtual-learning issues, such as trouble logging in to a device:
I understand that the decision to continue with virtual learning for two weeks in January will be welcomed by some and dismaying to others. Please know that this decision was not made lightly. I believe that we’re doing what’s best for Creative Minds and that this approach will put us on the road to being healthy, safe—and successful—in the second half of our school year.
Your questions are welcome in the ParentSquare comments and at email@example.com. Thank you for being part of our community. I wish you a peaceful and healthy winter break.