Dear Lagunitas School Parents and Staff:
Over the last two weeks COVID-19 guidance from the Marin County Health Department has changed repeatedly and significantly in response to the Omicron variant surge that began in late December. School protocols have now been updated in accordance with the new guidance.
The seemingly sudden and dramatic changes in guidance makes sense for a few reasons:
Our local health department has set a stellar example for COVID response not only in California but across the nation. Their professional, scientific approach has put our community in a better position than anywhere else in the U.S. in terms of reducing harm (from COVID and our responses to it) and keeping schools open. We have benefitted from following their guidance when conditions have worsened and when they have improved.
The health department is now advising us to adopt a new mindset based on the data gleaned from the Omicron surge. Omicron is more contagious but has proven much less virulent in Marin than earlier variants. Therefore it warrants a response that will reduce the harm that more drastic measures would cause, things like exclusion from school, unnecessary use of testing and other resources, loss of work, social isolation and general anxiety.
The Omicron surge in Marin peaked earlier than anticipated on January 4 and cases have dropped by about 2/3 since then so it makes sense to adjust our thinking and our behavior in a way that keeps us as safe as possible from the virus without having an unnecessary impact on other part of our lives.
In keeping with the new guidance:
- The school will no longer notify families when a student has reported a positive test. (The health department has even rescinded its template notices.) We should assume that there is possible exposure in any public setting and act accordingly.
- Symptomatic students and staff are still not allowed to come to school but may return if symptom-free after 5 days.
- Testing in no longer required for people retuning from isolation at home. However, Lagunitas is fortunate to have an ample supply of tests and will provide on-site testing for asymptomatic students and staff on request.
- Everyone should monitor their children for symptoms every day because the virus is still present in the community. The school will continue to provide at-home tests for symptomatic students and staff if requested.
We have cause for optimism as February approaches. The predictions that the COVID pandemic may change into a manageable (endemic) situation seem to be holding up. Please stay safe and at the same time, take the time to enjoy the benefits of fewer restrictions.
As always thank you for your support, patience and perseverance.
John Carroll, Superintendent