Update from the Superintendent: Student Cases, Quarantining, Vaccines, Testing
April 11, 2021
Update from the Superintendent: Student Cases, Quarantines, Vaccines, Rapid Testing
Dear Radnor Parents and Staff,
We have ten and a half weeks left until the end of the school year (not that I am counting!). I wanted to provide some updates, information, and reminders about our current status. I apologize for the long email but there is a lot of important information to share.
Current Rates of Covid in Our Community
Our Covid-19 dashboard for Saturday, April 3 through Friday, April 9 shows our largest spike in student cases (23). However, we still have strong evidence to suggest these cases are not resulting from in-school transmission. This rise in cases is a result of transmission in our community outside of school.
Dr. Walensky, Director of the CDC, said it best on April 9: “I want to be clear. As cases increase in our community, we expect cases identified in school will also increase. This is not necessarily an indication of school-based transmission.”
Radnor is an example of this phenomenon. During spring break (April 1-5), we had six new cases at RHS, three at RMS, and two at RES. Since we were on break, none of these students were in school, but we count them in our dashboard.
We experienced another example of community spread occurring outside of school this past week at our high school. Since Tuesday, April 6 at RHS we had nine new cases. Thankfully, none of these students attended school in person last week. They either stayed home at the beginning of the week because they were not feeling well, or they are enrolled in our fully virtual program.
Thank you, parents and students, for monitoring your symptoms and staying home when you are not feeling well and letting us know about the positive tests. We all need to be aware that the virus is clearly spreading more rapidly among our students in the community outside of school.
The Current Quarantine Process
While we are confident the recent surge in cases is not due to in-school transmission, the surge eventually impacts school. For example, in the days before Spring Break, we had one case at RMS, two cases at RHS, and two cases at RES. Since these students were in school, each positive case resulted in significant number of quarantines.
When we have a positive case in a school, our nurses and administrators perform contact tracing and identify every student exposed to the positive case. According to Chester County Health Department, exposure is based on less than six feet of social distancing for greater than 15 minutes. Since our classrooms are distanced from four to six feet, one positive case at RHS can result in 20 to 30 students needing to be quarantined for five to seven days at minimum.
Based on our extremely limited in-school transmissions, we have requested Chester County Health Department reconsider its quarantine rules. Other Pennsylvania counties and states have successfully reduced quarantine requirements when strict protocols, such as ours, are in place. We will keep you posted on any future changes.
Please remember, we do not notify our community and staff when we have a positive case. We immediately contact trace all close contacts and communicate with those families. If you are not contacted, then your student was not a close contact. Every week we publish our case counts on our website, but keep in mind we publish every student case, including those cases for students who never set foot in our schools.
Staff Vaccinations and Upcoming Student and Community Vaccination Opportunities at RHS
Every staff member who wanted a vaccination was vaccinated before Spring Break. I also sent an email yesterday to our families with students 16-years-old and up about an opportunity for these students to be vaccinated at RHS within the next two weeks.
Additionally, we have offered county health services to use Radnor High School as a mass Pfizer vaccination site for Delaware County on April 24 and April 25 (first dose) and May 15 and 16 (second dose). The county is handling the reservations, but we are supplying the building and all the volunteers. We will need hundreds of community volunteers to help with this effort and will be sending additional information later this week.
Status of April 5 Rapid Testing Event, Next Rapid Testing Event April 18
We now have the capabilities to use rapid tests to test more students and staff weekly. On the last day of Spring Break (Monday, April 5), we offered rapid testing to all our K-12 students. More than 450 students signed up and nearly 400 came to RMS to be tested. During the event, we identified four positive cases and immediately followed our established protocols, preventing potential exposure within our schools. Thank you students and parents for participating and staff for making this event possible.
We are going to host another rapid testing event on Sunday, April 18 from 5-7 p.m. again at RMS. We encourage all our families to sign-up by 4 p.m. on Friday, April 16 by completing this form here. You can create your student's required QR Code here. If you signed up for the April 5 event and already have a QR Code for your student(s), you do not need to create a new code and can bring your current code.
Thankfully, parents and students have been using our daily Covid-19 self-screening survey each morning and students have been staying home when feeling unwell. Masking and keeping symptomatic students home are two of our best defenses in limiting spread.
No Time to Let Our Guard Down
We all want to keep our schools open for full-in-person education until summer begins. We all must continue to follow our protocols. Please continue to complete the self-screening survey each morning and keep students home when they do not feel well.
Thanks to the collective efforts of our entire community, we have kept our schools open for full in person education since all in-person students returned. Let’s not let our guard down when we are so close to a successful in-person end to the school year.
Kenneth E. Batchelor
Superintendent of Schools