September 8, 2020
Dear SAU 70 School Community,
Welcome back! It’s great to see our schools back in action after nearly six months. Thanks, again, to all of those who worked over the Labor Day weekend to make our reopening possible. Now that we’ve made it this far, we need to work together to stay safe while we teach and learn. Ensuring that we are following our schools’ protocols, masking, maintaining distance, washing our hands frequently, and staying home when we’re sick will help us keep our schools open.
As I mentioned before, flexibility will be important, especially as we work the bugs out of new routines. Safety precautions will take some getting used to and will affect schedules and timing. Transportation, for example, will require patience as we work to balance busing needs with new safety procedures. Increased numbers of families who decide to drive their children to school will create more traffic at drop-off and pick-up times. So far, our schools have developed creative solutions to these challenges, and our families have been great partners in making them work.
One of the greatest strengths we have in our Hanover & Norwich schools, is our tight-knit, caring, and supportive community. Our interconnectedness can pose problems though, especially when our lightning fast rumor mill has plenty of pandemic-inspired grist. In order for us to operate our schools as safely as possible, we will need to rely on each other in many ways. So far, people have been exceptionally proactive informing our school staff of travel situations, health considerations, and COVID-19 testing. Likewise, our school nurses, medical advisors, and public health officials have been incredibly responsive. Unfortunately, rumors, even those based on decontextualized facts, can cause unnecessary worry and lost time.
Sharing accurate information will be essential to allow us to properly respond to any changes in the local course of the pandemic. In order to preserve the trust that will support this kind of communication, we are working mightily to safeguard peoples’ privacy. To that end, I am asking that we all refrain from contacting our schools to confirm or deny rumors about possible exposures or positive test results. As I included in my last update, we will follow state guidance with regard to notification of suspected exposures. In fact, the NH Division of Public Health Services “will assist us in notifying staff, students, and parents in the event that a COVID-19 exposure occurs at school.” When people inform us of possible exposures or positive test results, we will immediately inform our medical and public health advisors and take appropriate action, including making the important decision about any public notice.
Our school nurses and our COVID-19 Task Force will lead our efforts to monitor and respond to the local public health situation, and we will continue to keep you informed, both at the school and district level. Thank you all for such a great start to the 2020-21 school year!