Welcome to 2022!
I try to spend between thirty and forty minutes several days a week reading about the COVID-19 virus. I want to better understand what they have discovered about the virus and its variants, how it has impacted our lives, our economy, and most importantly how they are progressing on treatments and a path to work our way out of it.
The question I am seeking to answer is, “How will we get back to a more normal sense of work, play and learning?” The word “endemic” is becoming one of my favorite words or something to hold onto as we continue to work our way through this pandemic. In my simple understanding, endemic means that the virus is more localized and managed through potential weakening of the virus itself, through immunity developed both naturally and medically and through treatments. We’re not there yet, but the presence of the word endemic is becoming more and more present in the writings. This to me is hope and as I have said before hope is a key factor in happiness and in humanity.
I believe that 2022 will become a year of more normalcy for many in our work, play, and in the learning experience of our children. While in the midst of this latest surge, it may seem far away, I have hope that this too will pass, and spring will come and life will return to a greater sense of what it was prior to March of 2020.
I have been asked about what we are doing related to masking with the cited surge of Omicron. The board has approved a criteria based on student absences due to illness. This criteria looks at trends over 5-7 days in both the overall illness of students including those that are reported by parents and the specific illness attributed to COVID-19 through testing as self-reported. It also considers the level of positivity reported for Des Moines County. The district monitors the data, especially in times of high illness and will call the board into special session to consider the transition to masking.
The board’s ability to implement such a requirement is also linked to the current injunction staying the mask mandate ban put passed last spring by the legislature and governor. When a ruling on that mask mandate ban case is delivered, potential actions of the district in situations of high illness may need to be reevaluated.
The CDC has updated its guidance around the isolation and quarantining of staff and students in school settings. It appears at this level that quarantining, and isolating have not changed for the school setting as they have for the general public settings. A few moments ago we received information from the IDPH which would align to this including the expectations of masking for 5 days after staying home for the initial 5 days. Look for updated information about how best we, parents, students, and the district can address this expectation upon return.
Many of you know schools, like many organizations, are also working through the expectations, preparations and potential staffing ramifications of the recent vaccination mandate for staff. Ultimately the courts will determine the course of action we must follow, probably by the end of this week.
I know that regardless of what is said and what decisions are made in either of these situations and likely any other related to the pandemic, many will find frustration and concern. That’s OK. That is one of the things that makes us human, the views and perceptions we individually carry.
I learned long ago that one cannot always control what happens to them, but they can control how they react. In this unique situation, as in all situations, acting with respect, kindness, and appreciation of others views both collectively and individually ensures our continued humanity.
All of this seems really heavy for the start of a new year, but we’ve got this! We have gotten through this and will get through the rest of it. Welcome to 2022 – – The End of the Pandemic!