October 9 Update
We currently have only one active case of COVID-19 among our students and employees. We have dramatically reduced the number of quarantines since we took additional social distancing measures last month and more relaxed school quarantine guidelines will be applied by state health guidelines to those individuals in schools who are wearing masks properly when exposed (“low-risk school exposures”).
We follow the state and county health departments’ COVID-19 school manual, including notification and quarantining of all close contacts (those who were closer than six feet to a COVID-19 positive individual for 15 minutes or more). We remain hopeful that further spread can be managed relatively well, but we do expect that additional cases are likely given the sharp increase in infection rates in Utah County.
WHAT WE NEED FROM YOU NOW:
* Better Self-monitoring. Most families have been very good about keeping students home who have COVID-19 symptoms, even if slight, and even if there are questions about whether the symptoms are related to COVID-19 or another illness. We need to improve our self-monitoring and keep ourselves and our children home when symptoms are present. Please do not come to school with symptoms hoping that it won’t be COVID-19 or simply not wanting to take the time and energy to find out.
* Please communicate with Us. We know it can be inconvenient to stay home. We know it sometimes means missing out on important events at school. We also know it’s hard to determine sometimes what conditions are legitimate COVID-19 symptoms. When in doubt, please just call us and let’s discuss the symptoms together before making a decision about attending school.
* Please keep children Home While You Are Waiting for Test Results. If anyone in your home has symptoms for which you have chosen to seek a COVID-19 test, please keep children and other family members home from school while you are awaiting results of those tests.
* Understanding and Perspective. We are not aware of any student or employee hospitalizations or serious health complications that have occurred for students or employees who have contracted COVID-19 at AHS. To our knowledge there has been one hospitalization of a parent, which occurred over the summer, and that parent is now fully recovered.
So far, for each of the four high school students who tested positive, we have made, on average, approximately 30 contact tracing calls that have resulted in quarantining approximately 20 students for each one positive test result. This represents approximately 70 students who are currently quarantined for a two-week period, and numerous hours of correspondence between administrators, parents, teachers, and coaches.
We know that we can’t eliminate the risk of coronavirus. Even the most careful individuals and households can sometimes become infected and we don’t shame people for getting sick.
Having said that, we feel it is important for the school community to better understand the impact of a positive test result on all those whom it affects.
Our hope is that as more of us in the school community begin to understand the impact of coronavirus pressures on each other, including both the physical and mental health impacts, as well as the required impacts of isolation and quarantining, there will be:
– more empathy for each other (especially when we disagree about an approach);
– more vigilant mask wearing (and more mask breaks),
– more careful social distancing (and more safe gathering),
– more consistent hygiene (and more safe interaction),
– better self-monitoring for physical symptoms (and more awareness of emotional impacts/symptoms, too)
* More Consistent Mask Wearing. We continue to invite diligent mask-wearing and we invite each family’s and each employee’s recommitment to this safety practice. Masks are expected at all times in the building by all students, employees, and guests unless a medical exemption has been filed with the front office. We thank those of you who are trying so hard to do this well, even in some cases where you have claimed medical reasons not to wear a mask. We know it’s not easy. We won’t be doing it forever, and we are all looking forward to the time when the masks can come off.
We recognize that students and families are only with us for one-third of their day, and that the other two-thirds have just as much (if not more) impact on infection rates than their hours at school. But while we have you and your children here, we want you all to feel that, relatively speaking, it is one of the healthiest and safest places for you and your children to be.
On May 14, the Governor reduced the restriction level to “Low” (Yellow), indicating that school activities may resume with careful safety precautions in place. Read more about Utah’s color-coded phased guidelines HERE. We support the Governor’s directives and we are asking the entire school community to please do everything possible to support them as well.
UHSAA has indicated that high school off-season activities, including athletics, drama, orchestra, choir, and dance may continue so long as the UHSAA Safety Guidelines are followed.
We expect all who come to campus to abide by the following screening questions posted throughout the campus and STAY HOME if you have experienced COVID-19 symptoms, as follows:
Please do not come to school (adults or children) with any of these symptoms:
□ Fever: Persons who have symptoms of acute respiratory illness are recommended to notify the school and stay home until they are free of fever (100.4° F [38.0° C] or greater using an oral thermometer), free of signs of a fever, and free of any other symptoms for at least 24 hours, without the use of fever-reducing or other symptom-altering medicines (e.g. cough suppressants).
□ Shortness of breath (even if not severe)
□ Cough (if you normally have a cough because of allergies or asthma, is this cough different?)
□ Repeated shaking with chills
□ Muscle pain
□ Sore throat
□ New loss of taste or smell
If you have one or more of the above symptoms, which may be related to COVID-19, please stay home and take care of yourself.
Please do not enter the school if you are well but currently have or in the last two weeks have had a sick family member at home with COVID-19.
• Persons who are well but who have a sick family member at home with COVID-19 should quarantine at home for 14 days and communicate with the school via technology, not in person.
• Persons confirmed to have COVID-19 should isolate andinform all contacts of their possible exposure to COVID-19 but maintain confidentiality.
Please notify the school if:
□ You have been diagnosed with COVID-19
□ You have had contact with someone diagnosed with COVID-19
□ Live in or visit a place where COVID-19 is spreading rapidly.
What you can do generally:
The most effective way to stay healthy and minimize the spread of infectious disease (in any season) is to follow basic best-practices, which we expect from all in the AHS community:
1. Avoid close contact with people suffering from acute respiratory infections. If you or someone in your household develops an acute respiratory infection, please notify the school so that we can discuss appropriate responses, including potentially staying home and/or self-isolation.
2. Wash hands frequently and properly, especially after direct contact with ill people or their environment;
3. Practice cough etiquette: maintain distance, cough into your elbow or jacket/coat vest, not hands; otherwise cover coughs and sneezes with disposable tissues or clothing; and
4. For COVID-19 safety purposes, wear a face covering in public settings (required by public health order in Utah schools and also outside when social distancing is not feasible). See detailed note below regarding face coverings.
If you have symptoms, please stay home until you recover. As has been our policy for many years, if students or adults have a fever, they should remain home until they are fever-free for 24 hours without fever reducing medications (longer if quarantining is recommended by your physician or per the Utah COVID-19 School Manual).
If you tested positive for COVID-19, you must isolate (remain home, preferably in a separate room, and do not return to school) until fever free without medicine for 24 hours AND you no longer have symptoms, AND it has been at least 10 days since you first got sick (symptoms appeared) or tested positive (if you tested positive before symptoms appeared). Everyone who lives in your home should quarantine (including all family members who have been exposed but aren’t sick yet) as well as everyone who has had “close contact” with you (defined as six-feet or closer for 15 minutes or more), who should also quarantine and not go to school for 14 days.
In keeping with the Utah Department of Health’s most recent, August 14 face covering order, which applies to all public and private schools, we currently require face masks for all K-12 students, employees, and guests. Face shields are no longer permitted except in limited circumstances where seeing the mouth is “essential for communication.” The same exemptions as existed in the July 17 order also apply in the August 14 order; you can read more details about specific AHS face-covering requirements and protocols here.
We continue to closely monitor the safety plans that the Governor’s Office, the Utah State Board of Education (USBE), and other private schools are implementing for campus safety. Our safety protocols are detailed in our Returning Safely to Campus Plan and are consistent with best practices locally and nationally.
Please be assured that masks (and our COVID-19 response protocols generally) are not a political conversation for us, though we acknowledge that the topic is terribly politicized by many in the world, unfortunately. Rather, our conversations are entirely focused on a balance of public safety and responsibility, functionality, practicality, and personal choice.
Please also know that our Health & Safety Committee, comprised of physicians and medical specialists, will continue to revisit our safety protocols (including face coverings) as we proceed through the year.
In times like this, it is very important that we spread facts not fear. We communicate to children and employees at school that they are safe, that they should be wise, and that they should not fear. Please do the same thing at home. We are particularly grateful for the wisdom, unity, and experience of our extraordinary school community. We thank the many experts who provide sound counsel to us as new information is made available. We also believe in the power of prayer and service, and we continue to pray for and serve those around the world and in our own community who are struggling against the spread of dangerous illnesses.
Grant Beckwith, Principal
Jeremy Wright, Director of Facilities, Safety, & Security
(AHS policies and responses related to COVID-19 are guided by a Board-level Health & Safety Committee comprised of experienced physicians and other emergency response experts.)