COVID Safety Protocols and Updates

We believe there is nothing more important than safeguarding your student’s health. The Northwest School has taken a multi-layered approach to campus safety to provide a low-hazard environment in which to learn, teach, work, and visit. 

All eligible NWS students must be vaccinated for COVID-19 prior to the start of school. Our policies and procedures for the upcoming school year are informed and guided by recommendations and requirements from Public Health – Seattle & King County (PHSKC); the Washington State Department of Health (WA DOH); the Washington Office of the Superintendent of Public Instruction (OSPI); and, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC)

Please send any questions you may have about our protocols to this email address: Safety@northwestschool.org

2021-2022 SY COVID-19 Cases Dashboard

Last updated November 16, 2021

Active Cases: 

  • Students = 0 
  • Faculty = 0 

Total Cases:

  • Students = 5
  • Faculty = 3

Fall Opening Protocols

We are open for 100% in-person learning as we continue to monitor the ongoing health situation in Seattle. We will maintain the safety protocols that were in place last spring when we returned to in-person learning, including the required use of masks indoors and when using school-provided transportation, as recommended in recent guidance from local, state, and federal health officials.

  • November 30 Letter from Head of School - Recent Court Cases and COVID-19 Update

    Yesterday, it was a pleasure to welcome our students and faculty back to the House – their energy and enthusiasm bode well for a positive beginning to our second trimester. Fall Break arrived at just the right time. It gave students a respite from schoolwork and daily routines while providing faculty time to recharge.

    Beginning this week, The Northwest School will be represented by over 10 faculty members and six students at the annual NAIS People of Color Conference and Student Diversity Leadership Conference. This conference provides participants an opportunity to learn in workshops led by educators from across the country as well as to make connections with peers. Additionally, our students will be able to engage in transformative work with fellow students from diverse backgrounds and schools. I trust the group will return to campus with new ideas for fostering a greater sense of belonging.

    I want to devote this week’s letter to the verdicts in the Kyle Rittenhouse and Ahmaud Arbery trials. As many are aware, Kyle Rittenhouse was acquitted on all charges while the three men in the Ahmaud Arbery case were each found guilty of murder and other related charges.

    Reactions

    In any court case, the verdict will bring closure and satisfaction to one side, and anguish and disappointment to the other. These cases were no different as their outcomes ignited reactions across the country – reactions ranging from disbelief that Kyle Rittenhouse was acquitted to relief about the guilty charges in the Ahmaud Arbery case to concerns that both trials were flawed in their execution.

    Verdicts: The Northwest School’s Response

    It is common for schools to make statements about societal events to clarify the institution’s position on a specific issue. Throughout my career, I have found these position statements to be more divisive than unifying. In some cases, the statements did not account for varying perspectives in the community.

    I will not present an opinion about the outcomes of either case because one opinion will not reflect the nearly 600 students and faculty in our community, let alone the opinions held by each of our families. Instead, I want to acknowledge that the two trials were examples of our judicial system in action.

    Each trial had similarities – jury selection, opening statements by the prosecution and defense, witness, and expert testimony, closing arguments, a judge who presided over the case, and an eventual verdict. Reactions to the outcomes should be focused on the execution of the trials – the lawyers’ strategy, the judges’ involvement, media coverage and its messaging, an observation of public opinion, and so forth.

    Our role as a school is not to tell our students what to think or which side to take. Instead, it is to help them develop their own opinions about the trials by discussing the facts and asking them what they think about the facts. Sometimes, adults in educational settings can signal students to think about a given issue in a certain way. Often, this way of thinking is an extension of the adult’s position on the issue.

    I admit that some societal issues and events can be so jarring that one cannot help but formulate a strong opinion. However, it is in these moments that we as adults must work extra hard not to overlay our opinions on the developing minds of our students. By leaning on the last line in our mission, ‘We graduate students with historical, scientific, artistic, and global perspective, enabling them to think and act with integrity, believing they have a positive impact on the world,’ we can ensure our students graduate with the confidence and skills they require to make a difference.

    Looking Ahead

    Our students are very astute when it comes to identifying injustices and their source. Since our founding in 1980, The Northwest School has maintained a commitment to social justice and to supporting students in their understanding of societal issues and events.

    I am encouraged by what I have heard from students who are considering careers related to the judicial system. Some have identified flaws or missteps in the Rittenhouse trial and expressed a sentiment along the lines of ‘if I were the prosecutor, I would have…,’ or, ‘if I were the judge, I would not have…’ These observations are indicative of our students’ ability to recognize how certain actions can contribute to negative outcomes, and to determine how they can be part of a solution.

    The Opportunity for Students

    The opportunity for students considering a career in the judicial system – lawyer, judge, law enforcement, etc., is to first understand the system and then determine how to preserve the positive and improve the imperfections. There is no denying that the system has weighed negatively for people of color in ways that have had lasting effects on generations. In recent days, there have been several African American men released from prison after 30 to 40 years of incarceration due to wrongful convictions as a result of the mishandling or concealment of key evidence during their trials. In these instances, it was the work of current lawyers and advocates who brought new information to light that made it possible for the original convictions to be overturned.

    I have every faith that our students, should they choose to engage in careers in the judicial system, would do so with the ability to recognize opportunities to make change and to strengthen an imperfect system.

    To the entire Northwest School community, I say THANK YOU! Your openness to examining core beliefs held closely in your homes, and your willingness to engage in meaningful discussions are both necessary and refreshing. For that, I am grateful to work in partnership with you to support our students as they prepare to contribute to societal change.

    COVID-19 Updates

    I’m continually impressed by Northwest students' commitment to creating a safe and healthy school environment. Expectations of behaviors are necessarily different this year, but our students have embraced the changes with positivity and resilience.

    We are continuing to test basketball students before and after each competition, and we are selecting random samples from our student and staff population to monitor the overall health of our school. As we dive deeper into this winter season, we ask that you be mindful and self-monitor for any COVID-19 symptoms. If your student feels ill, please keep them home. Moving forward, we would like to recognize some of the frustrations and concerns students have expressed and make steps toward restoring a more normal school environment.

    Vaccination Update

    This September, we set a goal that every student, age 12 and above, would be fully vaccinated by October 14. At this time, almost all qualifying students are fully vaccinated or have provided medical/religious exemptions.

    With the recent CDC endorsement of vaccines for children ages 5-11, we are setting a new goal of having all students fully vaccinated by Tuesday, January 18, 2022. This means that every student must have their first dose on or before December 27, 2021.

    If you require a medical or religious exemption, or have any questions or concerns regarding this timeline, please reach out to our Health Coordinator Ya Davis at safety@northwestschool.org.

    Modification to COVID-19 Protocols for Students

    After careful consideration of data, our high rate of vaccinations, and the increased testing regime, coupled with consultation with the faculty, beginning next week, seniors will have the privilege of signing out to go off campus during a free period and/or lunch. This change is the beginning of our shift away from our current protocols and onto a path where our students can begin to experience some semblance of normalcy during the school day.

    Closing

    The winter months are my favorite time during the school year because for nearly 20 years as a basketball coach, I carried the responsibility of injecting positive energy and school spirit through the performance of my teams on the court. I look forward to attending many basketball games this season, and hopefully I will see you there as well.

    In my last letter I extended an invitation to join me in reading The Anatomy of Peace. Please use this form to indicate your participation in a book club discussion that will kick off on December 15, at 7:00 pm via Zoom, with an introduction and framework for our time together. I am excited to engage in meaningful conversations about the text and to spend time with everyone who registers.

    Take care,

    Ray

  • November 16 Letter from Head of School - Fall Break and COVID-19 Safety Updates

    As Fall Break approaches, I am hopeful that everyone will be able to use this time to bring joy, engagement, and a respite from your daily routines. This is also a time when all students and faculty can disconnect from school and spend time with family and friends both near and far. Beginning this Friday, school will not be in session. Classes will resume on November 29.

    I acknowledge that this upcoming break will require you to take into consideration the possible reality of quarantines, required proof of vaccinations, and thoughtful discussions about overall health and safety. Historically, many have used this break to travel to connect with family and friends you may not have seen for some time. Others of you have welcomed guests and extended family members to your homes. In either case, please take the necessary steps to remain as safe as possible.

    While COVID-19 infection rates have been declining in recent weeks, here in King County, it is still important to be vigilant if traveling outside of the area. The Northwest School travel policy provides clear direction for returning to campus after the break.

    I wish everyone a restful and enjoyable Fall Break.

    Parent/Guardian Trimester 1 Surveys

    As you may have read in last week’s E-news, we have distributed the Trimester-1 Parent-Guardian Survey. This is an important action item for each family as the responses will provide helpful feedback and generate next steps for improving experiences heading into Trimeter-2. Our overall goal is 100% participation, so please take the time to complete the survey.

    COVID-19 Safety Updates

    Since the inception of our COVID-19 antigen testing program two weeks ago, we have administered to faculty and students a total of 421 tests. As of November 16, we have a 0% positivity rate. This achievement is a direct result of our collective effort to follow established health and safety protocols – so thank you, and let’s keep it up!

    As we continue to expand our testing capacity and streamline our procedures, our goal is to increase testing accessibility to best protect the health of our community. In order to do so, it is imperative that we receive completed consent forms as soon as possible. This form needs to be submitted only once, and you may access it in MyBackPack.

    For families whose children are participating in basketball this season, testing will be conducted twice a week as per requirements set by the Washington Interscholastic Athletics Association (WIAA). To ensure the highest level of protection and equity, we have elected to test all of our basketball players in both US and MS sports, rather than just unvaccinated individuals.

    We strive to uphold the highest standards of care, and if you have any concerns or questions, please feel free to contact us at safety@northwestschool.org.

    Thank you for your support in our efforts to provide an in-person school experience. Again, please remember to fill out a COVID-19 testing consent form (accessed via MyBackPack) as soon as possible.

    Closing

    Today’s House Meeting was lively as it covered topics ranging from COVID-19 protocols to Summits. In addition, the meeting was an opportunity to hear directly from families about your concerns, hopes for the future, and examples of positive experiences students are having. I also shared an idea about a Head of School Book Club in which we could gather to discuss books, beginning with one of my favorites, Anatomy of Peace. I will extend an invitation to an upcoming series of book talks beginning in January. More details to follow about how to register.

    Please enjoy the upcoming Fall Break!

    Take care,

    Ray

  • November 9 Letter from Head of School - COVID Update

    I woke up this morning to the blistering wind and rain that could have deterred me from coming to school today. But after some careful thought and an up-to-the-minute weather report, I made it to campus safely and entered the building to find a refreshingly warm hallway, smiling faces at the main entry, and a former teacher from the 1980s visiting the school because she happened to be in the neighborhood. This teacher shared great memories from her teaching days and remarked about how pleased she was to see that the school has evolved while staying true to its roots.

    As I continued to settle in, I began to think about how special and meaningful our community is to so many people, for so many reasons. Behind each reason is a foundational belief that each member of our community, past and present, is called upon to bring their whole self to the school each day. Each person adds a depth that over time enforces a strong foundation that can stand the tests of time.

    Just as the wind and rain from this morning had the potential to blow us away, today’s societal conditions can seem to threaten to blow us off our foundation. I am confident, however, that our students, faculty, and families will remain grounded as we navigate this journey together. I look forward to connecting with you soon.

    COVID-19 Updates

    Hiring a New Health Coordinator

    We have been fortunate to hire a new Health Coordinator, Ya Davis, to start on November 15. Ya is currently serving as an athletic trainer through our partnership with Children’s Hospital and is looking forward to expanding her engagement with Northwest in this new capacity. I am excited to welcome her expertise and medical background, as well as her deep commitment to students’ well-being. Ya will join me in continuing to monitor the Safety@northwestschool.org email address and in providing timely updates via this weekly letter.

    New Vaccine Eligibility for Students Ages 5-11

    With the newly released vaccination eligibility for our youngest grades (6th), I want to clarify the school’s position as stated earlier this fall -- that all eligible students be vaccinated or submit a religious or medical exemption. With that said, I recognize that each family will need to gather the necessary information to make an informed decision.

    Seeing that we are a week into the new status, I will continue to monitor the overall availability of the vaccine for this age group and explore the possibility of Northwest hosting a clinic on campus as we did earlier this fall. Please send any questions or concerns to safety@northwestschool.org and either Ya or I will respond in a timely manner.

    Health Advisory Panel Forming

    As we continue to move deeper into the fall, while simultaneously experiencing a decrease in overall cases in King County and a high vaccination rate on our campus, it is important that we discuss a plan to transition our community into an operational model that allows for increased flexibility and movement for our students. I am looking to establish a group of professionals in the areas of crisis communications, health, or any other field that would be helpful to the school as we further our planning and operations related to the pandemic.

    Some of the work this group would be instrumental in supporting includes: establishing markers that would signal the time to shift, aiding in data analysis, and most importantly, providing advice around communication. If you are interested in supporting the school in this capacity, please email safety@northwestschool.org.

    Closing

    I had the opportunity to view part of a rehearsal yesterday for the Fall Dance Showcase and found the students to be engaged and confident as they performed their parts of the dance routine. Our instructors care deeply about each student’s mastery of the performance and approached the rehearsal with precision and positive feedback. The performances this week will be spectacular.

    Lastly, I look forward to seeing you at our next House Meeting for parents and guardians on November 16 at 12 pm.


    Take care,

    Ray

  • November 2 Letter from Head of School - COVID Update

    Well, the rain has finally arrived! The gloomy skies and wet grounds can certainly influence one’s mood or outlook for the day. I, on the other hand, embrace the weather change and strive to find its beauty. Since arriving in the Pacific Northwest in 2013, I have heard horror stories about the weather and its effects, including seasonal affective disorder and the various ways people are impacted by the rainy season.

    Our teaching faculty are leaning into these upcoming weeks leading up to Fall Break with energy, creativity, and compassion. Each teacher values the student experience, aiming to meet students where they are and to help them grow. I know it can be somewhat counter intuitive to think that growth can happen during the rainy season ahead, but rest assured that the teaching and learning happening in our classrooms, hallways, and on the court/field has proven to be dynamic and inspiring.

    So, please join me in embracing this change in weather, and know that our teachers and students are doing the same. Looking ahead, Fall Break will certainly bring us the opportunity to recharge, spend time with family, and prepare for the period leading up to Winter Break. Until then, please stay dry!

    COVID Updates

    On Monday, November 1, we successfully tested over 50 students and faculty using the BinaxNOW Antigen Test; all results were negative.

    We are now in the advanced stages of planning for more frequent and robust testing capacity for both students and faculty. This effort is related to the testing needs mandated by our students' participation in sports (namely, basketball) and performance arts events, but also by our own goal to strengthen internal COVID protocols, as appropriate. For example, in the coming week, our goal is to test all participating students prior to the upcoming Fall Dance Showcase performances at Broadway Performance Hall on November 9-10.

    Going forward, we may prioritize testing students in advance of sports or performance arts events in addition to continuing to test students randomly.

    If you haven’t done so already, please take a moment to fill out the Rapid COVID-19 Antigen Test patient consent form, and get your student registered for COVID-19 testing. You can access the consent form for your student via My BackPack. You can register your student using the following registration link: https://simplereport.gov/register/62HJ6. These requirements must be completed ASAP.

    The BinaxNOW Antigen Test provided by the Washington State Department of Health is a self-administered anterior nasal swab. Results are available within 15 minutes. A positive test result will result in the individual following our isolation protocol. Test results will be disclosed to the appropriate public health authorities and as otherwise permitted or required by law. As a reminder, strict adherence to confidentiality will be enforced in all COVID-related matters, including testing, results, and notification.

    When your student is selected to be tested, you and your student will receive a notification via MyBackPack.

    If you have any questions or concerns, please send an email to: safety@northwestschool.org.

    Closing

    Thank you to all of the families who have agreed to host our Boarding students during the upcoming Fall and Winter Breaks. I know how important it is for students to be in a family atmosphere during these times. Spending break time in your homes will surely be a treat for each student.

    On a related note, our preliminary NWAIS accreditation visit went well last week. The co-chairs of the visiting team noted how special we are as a community and that we are READY for the full official visit in March.

    I look forward to seeing you at our next House Meeting for parents and guardians on November 16 at 12 pm.

    Take care,

    Ray

  • October 26 Letter from Head of School - NWAIS Visit and COVID Update

    The Northwest School is on the eve of welcoming the Co-Chairs of the NWAIS Accreditation Visiting Team to campus tomorrow for an all-day visit. Each member school of the Northwest Association of Independent Schools must go through an accreditation cycle that includes both a formal team visit and a self-report. The purpose of the process is to provide the host school an opportunity to conduct a deep analysis of its practices, policies, and procedures.

    The Northwest School has consistently renewed its accreditation by successfully meeting the standards and expectations expressed by NWAIS. Our preparation for the visit tomorrow began during the 2019 school year in anticipation of a team visit during the 2020 school year. Due to the pandemic, the visit was postponed to the current year. I am thankful for the teamwork required to bring this about and for the leadership of each of the following:

    • Meg Goldner Rabinowitz, Assistant Head of School
    • Frances Tee, Self-Study Coordinator
    • Kiara Littlejohn, Former Executive Assistant to the Assistant Head of School
    • Sarah Wong, Executive Assistant to the Assistant Head of School
    • Tiffany Lobner, Executive Assistant to the Head of School

    We are excited to welcome our guests tomorrow, followed by the entire visiting team later in March. Please know that this is an important and exciting time for the school to showcase, in a transparent manner, the richness that makes us unique. We are a vibrant community with many strengths, and there are also areas for growth. This process will provide affirmation and recommendations that will inform our work moving forward.

    COVID-19 Updates

    Yesterday, we initiated our COVID-19 testing program, testing over 50 students and faculty members. I’m pleased to report that we identified no positive cases. The testing program will continue on a weekly basis. Please be sure to complete the Rapid COVID-19 Antigen Test patient consent form, and get your student registered for COVID-19 testing. You can access the consent form for your student via My BackPack. You can register your student using the following registration link: https://simplereport.gov/register/62HJ6.

    Our Health Coordinator, Sierra Maxwell, will end her assignment with The Northwest School at the end of October. We recently initiated a hiring search for her position and are hoping to make an announcement in the coming weeks. Sierra was employed by Joffe Emergency Services, our health services contractor.

    In the interim, a Health and Safety transition team has been formed to manage all of our COVID-related procedures until we fill the position. The team is focused on accelerating our testing efforts, tracking and enforcing all COVID-19 protocols, maintaining confidentiality, and meeting the legal mandates associated with COVID reporting information to the appropriate health authorities. I will update you on this search in the coming weeks. In the meantime, please continue to direct any emails and information requests on this topic to safety@northwestschool.org.

    Closing

    The 2022-2023 admissions season began earlier this month with tours, an Open House last weekend, and outreach to prospective families interested in calling The Northwest School home. Our conversations with prospective families have been important in affirming that our program resonates with many who connected with us.

    I have also thoroughly enjoyed getting to know our 8th grade families — learning about their experiences in middle school and discussing the prospect of their continuation into the Upper School. As a 6-12 grade school, our goal is to have every student graduate from The Northwest School with confidence, knowledge, creativity, and the courage to make a difference in the world. I look forward to additional opportunities to share my thoughts, hopes, and our school’s mission with families during upcoming information sessions, tours, and admission fairs.

    Thank you all for your ongoing support of NWS!

    Take care,

    Ray

  • October 19 Letter from Head of School - Dining Program and COVID Updates

    Enjoying lunch together, as a community, has been a key part of The Northwest School experience since our founding 40 years ago. Our Dining Program has become a national leader as a result of excellent operational practices and a focus on wholesome meals rooted in nutrition, environmental sustainability, diversity, equity and inclusion, and global perspectives. During the COVID-19 pandemic, our innovative Dining Program team, led by Director of Food Services Bethany Fong, has done an outstanding job of bringing our community together to safely enjoy mission-oriented, nutritious, and delicious meals.

    During the past few weeks, many families have provided feedback about the lunch program through House Meetings and other conversations. Specifically, we have heard from you that the serving sizes should be increased. This is an issue for many students, particularly when coupled with a closed campus — students are currently not able to sign-out to visit local eateries. Given students’ varied levels of consumption, it has become increasingly evident that a change is necessary.

    Beginning tomorrow, we will increase our lunch portion size. Related to this change, we also explored the unintended impacts of increased portions and the inevitable outcome of increased waste. While we continually strive to align our operations and programs with our mission, and to reduce our environmental impact, we recognize that our impending change to the lunch program will appear to move us away from this goal. With that said, there are times when immediate needs, albeit temporary, necessitate such compromises.

    The Northwest School will always keep the needs of our students at the center of decision-making. For a behind the scenes look at The Northwest Dining Hall and our food system, follow along at @nws.kitchen on Instagram. Please let me know if you have any questions.

    COVID-19 Updates

    We will begin student and faculty COVID-19 testing onsite next week. As shared previously, we will start by testing a random 10% of our population each week. When your student is selected to be tested, you and your student will receive a notification via MyBackPack.

    If you haven’t done so already, please take a moment to fill out the Rapid COVID-19 Antigen Test patient consent form, and get your student registered for COVID-19 testing. You can access the consent form for your student via My BackPack. You can register your student using the following registration link: https://simplereport.gov/register/62HJ6. These requirements must be completed no later than Friday October 22nd.

    Testing will be conducted through Abbott Laboratories BinaxNOW rapid antigen tests provided by the Washington State Department of Health. The test will be a self-administered anterior nasal swab, and test results will be available within 15 minutes. A positive test result will result in the individual following our isolation protocol. Test results will be disclosed to the appropriate public health authorities, and as otherwise permitted or required by law. As a reminder, strict adherence to confidentiality will be enforced in all COVID-related matters, including testing, results, and notification. If you would like, you can click here to review the BinaxNOW Fact Sheet for Patients.

    If you have any questions or concerns, please send an email to: safety@northwestschool.org.

    COVID-19 and Fall Performing Arts Events

    Because the safety of our community members remains our top priority, we have made a decision about attendance at our upcoming fall performing arts events. Given current COVID-19 restrictions, we have determined that we do not have the capacity to invite audiences to performing arts events at this time. We will revisit this decision regularly and look forward to welcoming in-person audiences as soon as we are able to do so.

    Closing

    On behalf of the teaching faculty, I want to extend a hearty thank you to each of you for your attendance at Curriculum Night. We appreciate the outpouring of support for the academic program and are heartened by our students’ learning and experiences. I look forward to continued conversations and connections as we move deeper into the fall.

    Lastly, remember tomorrow night’s Movies with a Mission panel discussion takes place from 7-8:30 pm. Details about the Coded Bias film and the engaging Zoom discussion planned for tomorrow are also available on our Facebook and Instagram pages.

    See you soon,

    Ray

  • October 12 Letter from Head of School - Staffing and COVID Update

    We are gearing up for tomorrow’s Curriculum Night presentations and look forward to welcoming parents/guardians to our ‘virtual’ campus. All of the teaching faculty continue to demonstrate excitement and enthusiasm for working with each student and delivering a dynamic curriculum.

    Over the years, I have seen curriculum night serve as an opportunity to hear first-hand how students spend their days at school. Families arrive at the presentations prepared with questions about content, class expectations, and a desire for an overall description of what they need to know for the remainder of the term. The night will not include conversations about individual students — all specific questions should be reserved for another time.

    In my conversations with the Division Directors, I am confident in their ability to work closely with the teaching faculty to develop meaningful partnerships with students in the early stages of the year. Both Maria and James care deeply and are very knowledgeable about pedagogy, student experiences, and impactful leadership. All families will have opportunities to hear from each of them during the opening session tomorrow evening.

    I am looking forward to Curriculum Night and to hearing snapshots about what makes The Northwest School special.

    Staffing Update

    I want to let you know that Michele Sanchez, Director of Enrollment, will be ending her tenure at Northwest by the end of October to become the Director of Enrollment at Bertschi School. Michele has been a critical member of the senior leadership team and a wonderful colleague to everyone. Her strategic thinking and careful planning around enrollment have enabled the school to experience a robust enrollment season entering this current school year.

    A job posting is going live today, and I anticipate filling this position as soon as possible. With that said, please direct any interested candidates to our website for additional information.

    COVID Update

    As was mentioned last week, our vaccination rate for students is over 97%, and for faculty, we are at 98%. With this high rate of vaccinations, I am exploring the possibility of making adjustments to some of our protocols related to student movement on campus. I am aware that students want more opportunities to make decisions about where they can eat lunch, spend their free periods, and in general, move about the campus. Any changes would have to be weighed against the reality that our 6th grade students are not eligible for vaccinations.

    Closing

    I am encouraged by the attendance at our House Meetings thus far. The meetings are full of thoughtful questions and exchanges of ideas. I appreciate everyone’s support for our academic program, suggestions for improvement, and the overall excitement to be a member of The Northwest School community. Please feel free to reach out to me if there are any questions or ideas you would like to share.

    Take care,

    Ray

  • October 5: Letter from Head of School - Climate Change and COVID Update

    In his text, Climate: A New Story, the author, Charles Eisenstein, states, “Climate change portends a revolution in the relationship between nature and civilization, but this is not a revolution in the more efficient allocation of global resources in the program of endless growth. It is a revolution of love.”

    I open with this quote because it captures how I feel about my relationship to The Northwest School. Since my beginning on July 1, I have spent time understanding the accomplishments and challenges that we have gone through since the inception of our school in 1980. I have also come to understand that we have a wonderful opportunity in front of us as we move forward in our 41st year.

    One of those opportunities is to refine our academic program in ways that strengthen our students’ ability to understand and apply their knowledge to matters that are important to their daily experiences. These opportunities will undoubtedly present themselves in unique moments in the classroom, during assignments, discussions, and so on. It is in these moments of time that students should lean into the opportunity from a position of love.

    Students spend an inordinate amount of time on matters related to Northwest: their daily class schedule, homework, after school activities, and socializing with peers. It is important that students have an emotional connection to their endeavors instead of employing a task-oriented mindset. When students can emotionally connect with their engagements, they will see greater meaning and purpose beyond the immediate task.

    It is in this vein that Northwest has developed the Movies with a Mission series. This integration of DEI, environmental sustainability, and global perspectives invites engagement and provides an opportunity for deep connections and nuanced exploration of themes and their application to the world around us. I am excited about this new program and look forward to rich discussions and growth.

    So, when I think about climate change, I think about it in the context of an opportunity for all of us to proceed with an interdependent mindset — one that draws upon the richness that comes with a sense of beauty and appreciation for our surroundings and the people within. At Northwest, we believe in acknowledging the unique layers of identity that make up our entire community. In doing so, it becomes increasingly clear and important that our acknowledgement must be done with love, care, and compassion. These are essential as we continue to cultivate a climate of Belonging — our theme for the year!

    COVID-19 updates

    We are very excited about our current vaccination progress. As of October 5, 97% of our eligible students have been fully vaccinated. Once your student has been fully vaccinated, please make sure it’s reflected within Magnus.

    If you have not already uploaded your student’s COVID-19 vaccination records, please do so by following the instructions below.

    1. Open the Magnus Mobile V2 app and select “Student Health Tracker” in the bottom left of your Magnus home screen.
    2. Select “COVID-19 Vaccine Record Request.”
    3. Select “Submit Requirement.”
    4. Select “Add File.” This will prompt you to either take a photo, select an existing photo, or file from your device.
    5. Once you see the file has uploaded, click the circle to the left of the uploaded file. Make sure you see the check mark next to the uploaded file.
    6. Click “Submit.”

    Closing

    The month of October is filled with numerous ways for you to engage The Northwest School community. Whether it is the BIPOC Parent/Guardian event tonight, Curriculum Night next week, or Movies with Mission, the goal is to provide opportunities for collaboration, interactions with other members of the school community, and sources of valuable information. Please remember to read E-News on Thursday for a list of events for the month of October. I look forward to seeing you soon.

    Take care,

    Ray

  • September 28: Letter from Head of School - Seeking Hosts & COVID Update

    I hope this letter finds you well as we near the end of the first month of school. Students and faculty are settling into routines and are making new connections daily. Our athletics program is well into the season, and all of our teams are demonstrating resilience, high skill levels, and camaraderie. I look forward to getting out to see our teams in action in the upcoming weeks.

    Opportunity for family engagement with our Boarding Program

    The Northwest School seeks local families to host our boarding residents over the Thanksgiving Holiday and during our Holiday Break. The dormitory is currently scheduled to close from Wednesday, November 24 at 6 pm until Sunday, November 28 at 9 am, and from Sunday, December 19 at noon until Saturday, January 1 at 9 am.

    The need for hosts is particularly strong this year as many of our international residents will not be able to travel home for the holidays due to international travel restrictions and other COVID-19-related complications. We hope this will provide opportunities for meaningful connection, integration, and shared memories between available domestic families and our international community members.

    All host families should have all eligible family members fully vaccinated against COVID-19, agree to adhere to COVID-19 precautions in public and to follow other health and safety measures (list to be provided later), and must be able to pass a Washington State Patrol Background Check.

    If you are interested in hosting a dormitory resident or have inquiries about this, please contact Justin Peters, Dean of Residential Life at Justin.Peters@northwestschool.org. Your availability to host for a portion of the longer holiday break may be helpful.

    House Meetings

    Our first House Meeting today was attended by nearly 50 people and generated a rich discussion. We covered topics ranging from academic excellence, contact tracing, social distancing, and my reflections about the start of the school year. While this meeting demonstrated an open dialogue, it was clear that every parent or guardian on the call is invested in their child’s educational experience. I look forward to our upcoming meeting this Thursday morning, September 30 at 7:30 am. The entire House Meeting schedule can be found here. The meetings are also scheduled on the school calendar available from our home page.

    COVID-19 update

    As part of our final preparation for implementing our testing program, families will receive a consent form via My Backpack. Please review the form carefully and follow the instructions to return the form. This will help us in our efforts to coordinate the logistics needed to successfully administer the tests. As a reminder, strict adherence to confidentiality will be enforced in all COVID-related matters, including testing, results, and notification.

    Closing

    Thank you for your time, support, and ongoing partnership with The Northwest School. I look forward to seeing you soon.

    Take care,

    Ray

  • September 21: Letter from Head of School - COVID Safety Updates

    Updated Quarantine Policy

    After careful review of the CDC and Seattle-King County Public Health recommendations for quarantining following exposure to COVID-19, and coupled with the high transmission levels (inclusive of breakthrough cases), we have modified our quarantine policy to reflect the following:

    Quarantine Protocol

    A person identified as a close contact can return to campus once all of the following criteria are met:

    • At least 7 days have passed since the last close contact with the COVID-19 positive person, AND,
    • A negative COVID-19 test has been conducted on day 5 of the quarantine period. The test results must be sent to the Health Coordinator, AND,
    • Your student must be free of any COVID-19 signs or symptoms.

    Close Contact Definition

    Generally, a close contact is someone who was within six feet of a person with COVID-19 for at least a cumulative of 15 minutes over a 24-hour period during the period of time when the person with COVID-19 was infectious. The definition applies regardless of whether the case or contact was wearing a mask.

    In a K-12 indoor classroom, the close contact definition excludes students who were at least three feet away from an infected student when (a) both students were wearing face coverings/masks, and (b) other prevention strategies were in place.

    Note: This exception does not apply to teachers, faculty, or other adults in the indoor classroom setting. The ultimate determination of close contact is made by the local health jurisdiction during its investigation.

    COVID-19 Testing Update

    We have partnered with Learn to Return to design and implement our customized COVID-19 testing strategy for the 2021-2022 school year. School-based testing and other safety measures are effective tools for allowing schools to stay open safely for full-time, in-person learning. COVID-19 testing is critical for identifying cases of COVID-19 in our school, preventing the spread of disease, and keeping our students, teachers, and other faculty members on campus.

    We are excited to announce that starting the week of October 4th we will begin conducting free onsite COVID-19 testing. We plan to test at least 10% of our population, including students and faculty members, each week.

    Testing will be conducted through Abbott Laboratories BinaxNOW rapid antigen tests provided by the Washington State Department of Health. The test will be a self-administered anterior nasal swab and test results will be available within 15 minutes. A positive test result will result in the individual following our isolation protocol. Test results will be disclosed to the appropriate public health authorities, and as otherwise permitted or required by law.

    In addition to our weekly testing model, we will also have several of these tests available for those experiencing signs/symptoms consistent with a COVID-19-like illness. In the event your student is experiencing signs/symptoms, the Health Coordinator will call parents/guardians to obtain consent before a COVID-19 test is administered. Test results will be available within 15 minutes. A positive antigen test result would require the individual to self-isolate according to our isolation protocol.

    You will receive a COVID-19 testing consent form through My BackPack to enroll your student in our testing program. If you would like, you can click here to review the BinaxNOW Fact Sheet for Patients.

    If you have any additional questions or concerns, please send an email to: safety@northwestschool.org.

    Take care,

    Ray

  • September 14: Letter from Head of School - COVID Safety Updates

    We are off and running this week! Students have arrived on campus and have brought with them an outpouring of energy and excitement for in-person learning. As I walk the halls, I have seen and heard teachers delivering curriculum in dynamic ways that have captured the imagination and attention of their students. The preparation of the teaching faculty to start the year with a focus on maintaining a challenging and positive academic experience is evident in the early stages of the term.

    I am excited about the work of the PGA leadership and the collaboration between this group and my office. Throughout the year, we will co-sponsor opportunities for me to be in conversation with families in an open discussion format. We feel it is important for us to create and sustain a consistent method for parents and guardians to hear directly from me, while at the same time, develop opportunities for me to hear from families about their experiences. I look forward to meeting more families as the upcoming weeks approach.

    Below, you will find the latest COVID-related information since last week’s communication. Please continue to send us your questions or observations as they are helpful in our continued progress.

    Reminder: COVID-19 Vaccination Policy (Updated August 31, 2021)

    We recognize that access to immunizations varies by family. We are asking that everyone currently eligible for the COVID-19 vaccine, receive at least one dose prior to the start of the school year. With that said, it is our expectation that all eligible students will receive their second COVID-19 vaccine dose no later than September 30. This will ensure that all eligible students are fully vaccinated no later than October 14. This time frame is consistent with the vaccine administration timeline.

    We are also very excited with our current vaccination progress and look forward to watching our numbers increase as we get closer to the start of the new school year. As of September 14, 92.79% of eligible students have been fully vaccinated.

    Daily Health Screenings (Updated September 14, 2021)

    Thank you for completing this important step each morning. When students arrive on campus, they are efficiently completing the screening and doing so with greater ease each day. The faculty at each entrance are connecting with happy and confident students who are ready to start their day.

    Click this link for a reminder about how to set up Magnus in case you need a refresher from last week:

    Covid-19 Testing Plan Update

    Sierra and I have explored several testing options and are nearing completion of that process. We aim to start weekly testing no later than the week of September 27. The ramp up to implementation is more involved than we had anticipated. A more detailed communication will be sent out in our upcoming communication next Tuesday.

    Community Building and Belonging in Action

    Thank you to the Upper School PGA leadership for organizing a delightful back-to-school outing at Lincoln Park on Saturday. We had a strong turnout and everyone adhered to the safety measures that were in place. It was great to see families and students engage in heartfelt conversations and games, as well as share some hopes that they have for the upcoming year. One of my hopes for the year is that we continue to find moments of joy as members of The Northwest School.

    Take care,

    Ray

  • September 7: Letter from Head of School - COVID Safety Updates

    Students arrive for orientation this week. The energy is increasing around campus as our faculty ready the campus for dynamic in-person engagement. The Main School building has received new carpet that will be a refreshing change for the start of the year. The classrooms are set up to reflect our distancing protocols. Our athletics program is off to a strong start with practices, and the Boarding Program just held its Student Welcome and Orientation.

    We look forward to welcoming all of our students to campus later this week and to engaging in meaningful conversations at the grade level Zoom events for parents/guardians. Lastly, the upper school back to school event at Lincoln Park on Saturday will be another opportunity to meet one another and to build a warm and welcoming community.

    Sierra and I are working daily to keep ourselves informed about changes and expectations related to COVID-19 protocols. We are connected to peer schools and are exchanging information as we implement our mitigation strategies. In addition, we meet weekly with our internal operations team to establish our daily procedures for students and faculty. Our latest session focused on our expectations for daily health screenings. (See below.)

    Reminder: COVID-19 Vaccination Policy (Updated August 31, 2021)

    We recognize that access to immunizations varies by family. We are asking that everyone currently eligible for the COVID-19 vaccine receive at least one dose prior to the start of the school year. With that said, it is our expectation that all eligible students will receive their second COVID-19 vaccine dose no later than September 30. This will ensure that all eligible students are fully vaccinated no later than October 14. This time frame is consistent with the vaccine administration timeline.

    We are also very excited with our current vaccination progress and look forward to watching our numbers increase as we get closer to the start of the new school year. As of September 7, 86.8% of eligible students have been fully vaccinated.

    Daily Health Screenings

    We will be using the COVID-19 Daily Health Screening assessment in the Magnus Health mobile app to track the health of our students and faculty members. In an effort to keep our community safe, all parents/guardians will be required to complete this daily health screening for each student attending in-person classes/activities at NWS prior to their departure to school or an event.

    The ‘Magnus Mobile V2’ app will allow parents/guardians to complete this assessment easily from a smartphone in just a few clicks. This screening process will help us to create the safest possible environment for your students and our faculty by avoiding screenings at the door where person-to-person transmissions could take place.

    All parents/guardians must submit the screening each morning no later than 7:50 am. Please reserve 1 to 2 minutes per student to complete this each morning. At the completion of the quick survey each morning, you will receive a message with the student’s attendance instruction for that day. If your student does not pass the daily health screening, keep them home and notify the Health Coordinator as soon as possible.

    How to Setup a Magnus Account & Download the Magnus Mobile App

    1. For the best experience, start by using a browser on a computer. Log into Magnus by first logging into your parent MyBackPack account.

    2. Navigate to the Magnus Login link, found in the Message Center of My BackPack.

    3. At the Magnus Health Login Screen Prompt, please log in.

    4. Once logged into Magnus via the browser on your computer, hover over your name (top left of screen).

    5. If you have not already done so, choose “Change Credentials” to set up the Magnus Mobile App account. This step is essential for you to complete your COVID-19 Daily Health Screening.

    6. Download the “Magnus Health” app from the Google Play Store or download the “Magnus Mobile V2” app from the Apple Store and login using your newly created username/password combination. If your device allows it, you can also set up the biometric login for easier access.

    7. Log onto the Magnus Health mobile app on your mobile device with the credentials you set up. Once logged into the mobile app, you will see your student(s). Follow the steps below to complete the COVID-19 Daily Health Screening.

    How to Complete COVID-19 Daily Health Screening

    You will need to fill out the COVID-19 Daily Health Screening for each of your students every time they participate in in-person learning or activities.

    1. Tap your student’s name and then the “COVID-19” icon

    2. Answer all the questions that populate in the screening

    3. You will need to take and record each student’s temperature at home and enter it into the daily health assessment

    4. You will receive a confirmation message upon completing the screening that either says “Go” or “Stop”

    5. If you receive a “Stop” message for your student, they should not come to school. Notify the Health Coordinator.

    What is Magnus?

    Magnus is a web-based student medical record solution designed specifically for use in schools. The primary focus of an SMRA is streamlining the collection and secure storage of student health information. This program allows you, the parent or guardian, to securely and accurately communicate your student’s health information. In return, it allows key personnel in our school the ability to access that information to provide your student with safe, timely care in the event there is an illness or emergency. As this is a web-based system, you will have continuous access to your child’s health record as well as the ability to make updates when needed to any health history. All health form updates will be able to be completed through the new app as well.

    We thank you in advance for your cooperation in this daily health screening as it will be an imperative function of our safety protocols.

    Questions or Problems with Magnus?

    For any technical issues with the mobile app such as login problems, or problems completing the screening, please contact customer support at Magnus Health SMR by phone at 877.461.6831 or by email at service@magnushealthportal.com.

    Help Desk Hours:

    July - August: Mon - Fri 7am-6pm ET

    September - June: Mon - Fri 7am-6pm ET

    Also, please feel free to consult the Magnus Health Privacy and Security page at www.magnushealth.com/privacy-and-security/.

    Thank you for taking the time to review these updates. You may also access this information here: http://northwestschool.org/daily-life/covid-protocols. Feel free to send any questions you may have about our protocols to Sierra or to me.

    Please understand that as more information is learned about COVID-19, and as different guidelines or recommendations are issued by public health officials, we will continue to update and modify our policies and procedures accordingly. Our goal will always be to prioritize the health and safety of our community members while staying true to our mission and values.

    Take care,

    Ray

  • August 31: Letter from Head of School - COVID Safety Updates

    The faculty and I are entering into the home stretch of preparations for the start of the school year. Our preparations have included an on-campus leadership team retreat, new faculty orientation, and our all-faculty orientation this week. In addition, the Boarding faculty has done a great job of preparing and welcoming residential students to campus. Overall, we are proceeding at a pace that will provide students a calm and welcoming start to the year.

    Below, are a few updates since last week's COVID-19 communication. Please review, and let us know if you have any questions.

    COVID-19 Vaccination Policy (Updated August 31, 2021)

    We recognize that access to immunizations varies by family. We are asking that everyone currently eligible for the COVID-19 vaccine receives at least one dose prior to the start of the school year. With that said, it is our expectation that all eligible students will receive their second COVID-19 vaccine dose no later than September 30. This will ensure that all eligible students are fully vaccinated no later than October 14. This time frame is consistent with the vaccine administration timeline.

    We are also very excited about our current vaccination progress and look forward to watching our numbers increase as we grow closer to the start of the new school year. As of August 31, 79.76% of eligible students have been fully vaccinated.

    On-Site Vaccination Clinic

    This clinic will be available to those who are eligible to receive a booster shot, those outside of our immediate NWS community, those who have recently become eligible due to recent birthdays, and those who need to receive their second dose. We understand that due to the late announcement of our vaccine policy, some may not meet the criteria of being fully vaccinated prior to the first day of school.

    Weekly Testing (Updated August 31, 2021)

    We will implement on-site COVID-19 screening testing throughout the upcoming school year. For the first month of the 2021-2022 school year, we plan to test every faculty member and student each week. This method allows us to identify cases immediately and prevent secondary transmission from occurring on campus. In these moments of high COVID-19 activity within King County, weekly testing supports our goals of keeping our doors open and our community members safe. As we learn more about COVID-19 and the role testing can play in mitigating the risk of contracting and spreading COVID-19, we will reassess the frequency of the testing and make modifications as needed.

    We are finalizing details with our testing vendors and will share more information once it’s available.

    Thank you for taking the time to review these updates. You may also access this information here: http://northwestschool.org/daily-life/covid-protocols. Feel free to send any questions you may have about our protocols to Sierra or to me.

    Please understand that as more information is learned about COVID-19 and as different guidelines or recommendations are issued by public health officials, we will continue to update and modify our policies and procedures accordingly. Our goal will always be to prioritize the health and safety of our community members while staying true to our mission and values.

    We look forward to welcoming students to campus next week!

    Take care,

    Ray

  • August 24: Letter from Head of School - COVID Safety Updates

    We are all aware of the latest order that Governor Inslee announced last week that all school employees must be vaccinated or have an approved exemption on file. As of today, more than 98% of our faculty are fully vaccinated. As expected, we have under 2% of our faculty with exemptions that fall under approved legal guidelines. As a school community, we are in full compliance and look forward to making continued progress with strengthening our safety measures for the start of school.

    Through our weekly communication focused solely on COVID-19, all families will be informed about updated Northwest School policies and/or protocols resulting from shifts in guidelines and/or recommendations set forth by Public Health – Seattle & King County (PHSKC); the Washington State Department of Health (WA DOH); the Washington Office of the Superintendent of Public Instruction (OSPI); and, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).

    Updates since last week’s letter dated August 17, 2021:

    Vaccination Policy

    Over the past many months, we've learned that vaccination is the single most important way to keep ourselves and our community safe. Therefore, all eligible NWS students must be fully vaccinated for COVID-19 prior to the start of school.

    For those already fully vaccinated, please upload vaccine information via Magnus by September 9. Families not able to vaccinate their eligible students should contact Health Coordinator Sierra Maxwell by September 1 to discuss our exemption policy.

    As of August 23, 54.5% of eligible students are fully vaccinated. We anticipate that as we approach the start of school, the number will increase, especially since the announcement of full FDA approval of the Pfizer vaccine.

    Please note that we are keeping a close eye on vaccine approval status for students under 12, which is important to many Northwest School families with younger students or siblings at home.

    Northwest will plan to host a vaccine clinic on campus in September on a date to be announced in a future communication.

    Face Coverings

    Correct use of face coverings or masks helps prevent the spread of COVID-19. Masks are required when indoors for all students, faculty, and visitors regardless of vaccination status. Masks may only be removed when actively eating or drinking during lunch. In moments when masks are removed (i.e., during lunch or break), a minimum of 6ft of distance must be maintained at all times.

    We have additional 3-ply surgical face masks available should anyone need a replacement for any reason.

    Physical Distancing

    Public health officials have noted that physical distancing requirements should not prevent a school from offering full-time, in-person learning to all students/families in the fall. We will maintain physical distance to the degree possible and reasonable that allows for full-time, in-person learning for all students. All of our classrooms will be set up to allow at least 3ft of distance between each student. When masks cannot be worn, such as when eating lunch, students will be distanced at least six feet apart from one another.

    Submitting Immunization Records

    The only immunization we are collecting via Magnus is the COVID-19 vaccine. All other immunization records need to be emailed directly to the Health Coordinator. Please email your student’s medically verified immunization records to our Health Coordinator, Sierra Maxwell (sierra.maxwell@northwestschool.org) before the first day of school.

    Thank you for taking the time to review these updates. You may also access this information here: http://northwestschool.org/daily-life/covid-protocols. Feel free to send any questions you may have about our protocols to Sierra or to me.

    Please understand that as more information is learned about COVID-19 and as different guidelines or recommendations are issued by public health officials, we will continue to update and modify our policies and procedures accordingly. Our goal will always be to prioritize the health and safety of our community members while staying true to our mission and values.

    We look forward to welcoming you all back to campus in September!

    Take care,
    Ray

  • August 17: Letter from Head of School - Full COVID Safety Protocols

    We are excited to welcome everyone back in person this fall! Below is information for your planning purposes. Specifically, you will notice that all eligible NWS students must be vaccinated for COVID-19 prior to the start of school. Additionally, we have updated our testing and travel policies. After reviewing the details regarding our health reminders, please feel free to reach out to me or Sierra Maxwell, our Health Coordinator.

    Fall Opening Protocols

    As you continue your summer experiences, you should know that we are gearing up for the start of school—we are focusing on completing student schedules, program offerings, and curriculum planning, and we are refreshing our health and safety protocols. We plan to open for 100% in-person learning in September as we continue to monitor the ongoing health situation in Seattle. We will maintain the safety protocols that were in place this spring when we returned to in-person learning, including the required use of masks indoors and when using school-provided transportation, as recommended in recent guidance from local, state, and federal health officials.

    Keeping our Community Healthy: COVID-19 Mitigation Strategies

    We believe there is nothing more important than safeguarding your student’s health. Our policies and procedures for the upcoming school year are informed and guided by recommendations and requirements from Public Health – Seattle & King County (PHSKC); the Washington State Department of Health (WA DOH); the Washington Office of the Superintendent of Public Instruction (OSPI); and, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). Please take note of the following reminders and review them with your family as we begin our next school year together.

    We are implementing the following mitigation strategies for the upcoming school year:

    • vaccinations
    • face coverings/masks
    • physical distancing
    • improved ventilation
    • handwashing and respiratory etiquette
    • regular cleaning
    • disinfecting
    • travel policy
    • staying home when sick and seeking evaluation
    • on-site vaccination clinic
    • COVID-19 testing
    • contact tracing in combination with quarantine and isolation
    • appropriately responding to cases of COVID-19, and meeting the reporting requirements to public health agencies

    Each strategy is covered in more detail below.

    Strategy Specifics

    The following strategies are intended to help reduce the risk of exposure to, and transmission of, COVID-19 within our community. Our intent is to provide a safe environment for our students, faculty, and community at large. NWS has taken a multi-layered approach to campus safety to provide a low-hazard environment in which to learn, teach, work, and visit.

    Vaccination Policy (updated August 31, 2021)

    Over the past many months, we've learned that vaccination is the single most important way to keep ourselves and our community safe. Therefore, all eligible NWS students must be vaccinated for COVID-19 prior to the start of school.

    We recognize that access to immunizations varies by family. We are asking that everyone currently eligible for the COVID-19 vaccine receives at least one dose prior to the start of the school year. With that said, it is our expectation that all eligible students will receive their second COVID-19 vaccine dose no later than September 30. This will ensure that all eligible students are fully vaccinated no later than October 14. This time frame is consistent with the vaccine administration timeline.

    For those already vaccinated, please upload vaccine information via Magnus by September 9. Families not planning to vaccinate their eligible students should contact Health Coordinator Sierra Maxwell by September 1 to discuss our exemption policy.

    Since the vaccines became available, more than 98% of our faculty have chosen to receive it. As expected, we have under 2% of our faculty with exemptions that fall under approved guidelines. We are also very excited about our current student vaccination progress and look forward to watching our numbers increase as we grow closer to the start of the new school year. As of August 31, 79.76% of eligible students have been fully vaccinated.

    Please note that we are keeping a close eye on vaccine approval status for students under 12, which is important to many Northwest families with younger students or siblings at home.

    On-Site Vaccination Clinic (updated August 31, 2021)

    This clinic will be available to those who are eligible to receive a booster shot, those outside of our immediate NWS community, those who have recently become eligible due to recent birthdays, and those who need to receive their second dose. We understand that due to the late announcement of our vaccine policy, some may not meet the criteria of being fully vaccinated prior to the first day of school.

    Weekly Testing (updated August 31, 2021)

    We will implement on-site COVID-19 screening testing throughout the upcoming school year. For the first month of the 2021-2022 school year, we plan to test every faculty member and student each week. This method allows us to identify cases immediately and prevent secondary transmission from occurring on campus. In these moments of high COVID-19 activity within King County, weekly testing supports our goals of keeping our doors open and our community members safe. As we learn more about COVID-19 and the role testing can play in mitigating the risk of contracting and spreading COVID-19, we will reassess the frequency of the testing and make modifications as needed. In the event someone tests positive for COVID-19, the isolation and quarantine protocols below will be followed.

    We are finalizing details with our testing vendors and will share more information once it’s available.

    Face Coverings

    Correct use of face coverings or masks helps prevent the spread of COVID-19. Masks are required when indoors for all students, faculty, and visitors regardless of vaccination status. Per the Secretary of Health’s Mask Order, face coverings are not required outdoors, regardless of vaccination status. We have additional face masks available should anyone need a replacement for any reason.

    Physical Distancing

    Public health officials have noted that physical distancing requirements should not prevent a school from offering full-time, in-person learning to all students/families in the fall. We will maintain physical distancing to the degree possible and reasonable that allows for full-time, in-person learning for all students. When masks cannot be worn, such as when eating lunch, students will be at least six feet apart from one another.

    Ventilation

    All of our mechanical ventilation systems have been upgraded with medical grade filtration and retrofitted with Needlepoint Bipolar Ionization technology. Needlepoint Bipolar Ionization is the gold standard for indoor air quality. We have also added air scrubbers to provide additional purification throughout the main school building. In areas without access to mechanical ventilation, we will have windows open with fans placed for appropriate air intake/outtake and will also have stand-alone, medical-grade filtration units strategically placed to maximize air filtration/ventilation in those spaces.

    Handwashing & Respiratory Etiquette

    We have several hand sanitizing stations located throughout campus. At a minimum, students and faculty should wash their hands prior to arriving to campus, before and after meals, after going to the restroom, after using a tissue for coughing or sneezing, and before leaving campus. Hands should be washed between all activities. Washing your hands is the single most effective way to prevent the spread of infections.

    Cleaning and Disinfecting

    We have a detailed, methodical, multi-layered process for cleaning and disinfecting our campus daily. Our plan uses EPA-approved products, is deployed by various stakeholders throughout the course of a day, and is focused on occupied areas throughout campus.

    Travel Policy

    Unvaccinated Persons Traveling Domestically

    All unvaccinated persons planning to travel out of the state must complete the following before returning to campus:

    1. Quarantine for a full 7 days AND
    2. Get a COVID-19 test 3-5 days after your trip AND
    3. Confirm test results with the Health Coordinator (sierra.maxwell@northwestschool.org)

    OR

    1. Quarantine for 10 days

    Vaccinated Persons Traveling Domestically

    All vaccinated persons planning to travel out of the state must self-monitor for COVID-19 symptoms upon their return. If at any point symptoms develop, notify the Health Coordinator, isolate, and get tested as soon as possible.

    Staying Home When Sick

    Students and faculty who have symptoms of infectious illness, such as influenza or COVID-19, should stay home and seek medical evaluation, which may include testing for COVID-19 and other respiratory infections. If your student is sick or not feeling well, please keep them at home and notify the school as soon as possible. Our Health Coordinator will help plan a return to campus based on your specific situation.

    Isolation

    Anyone who reports COVID-19-like symptoms will be immediately isolated from others, sent home, and referred to diagnostic testing as soon as feasible. While waiting to leave school, the symptomatic individual will be isolated in a designated isolation space and will be monitored by the Health Coordinator. The isolation protocols below apply regardless of vaccination status.

    Symptomatic Isolation Protocol (Positive COVID-19 Test)

    If a person tests positive for COVID-19, and they’re experiencing symptoms, they can return to campus when the following criteria are met:

    • 10 days since symptom onset AND
    • 24 hours after fever resolves without use of fever-reducing medications AND
    • Symptoms have improved

    Symptomatic Isolation Protocol (Negative COVID-19 Test)

    If the COVID-19 test comes back negative, they can return to campus when the following criteria are met:

    • 24 hours after fever resolves without use of fever-reducing medications, AND
    • Symptoms have improved

    Asymptomatic Isolation Protocol

    If a person tests positive for COVID-19 but has not had any symptoms, they can return to campus when the following criteria are met:

    • At least 10 days have passed since the date of the first COVID-19 test AND
    • They are still not experiencing any signs or symptoms

    Quarantine

    Quarantine is when someone who has been exposed to COVID-19 stays home and away from others for the recommended period of time in case they were infected and are contagious. In the event someone tests positive for COVID-19, all close contacts will be identified and made aware of our quarantine protocols. A close contact is someone who was within six feet of a person with COVID-19 for at least 15 cumulative minutes over a 24-hour period during the period of time when the person with COVID-19 was infectious.

    If at any point during a quarantine period someone experiences signs/symptoms consistent with COVID-19, they will discontinue quarantine and begin following the isolation protocols above.

    Quarantine Protocol

    A person identified as a close contact can return to campus once:

    • At least 10 days have passed since the last close contact with the COVID-19 positive person AND
    • A negative COVID-19 test has been conducted on day 7-8 of the quarantine period. The test results must be sent to the Health Coordinator AND
    • No symptoms are present

    Close Contact Quarantine Exemption for Students

    • In a K-12 classroom, the close contact definition excludes students who were at least three feet away from an infected student when (a) both students were wearing face masks, and (b) other prevention strategies were in place.

    This exception does not apply to teachers, support faculty, or other adults in the indoor classroom setting. The ultimate determination of close contact is made by the local health jurisdiction during its investigation.

    Magnus Reminder

    Please be sure to have all your student’s health records uploaded to Magnus. The following requirements need to be completed via Magnus before the first day of school:

    • Complete/review the Vital Health Record
    • Upload your student’s COVID-19 vaccine record if they have received it
    • Complete the Over-the-Counter Medications form
    • Complete the Physical Exam Form
    • Review the Concussion & Cardiac Arrest Forms with your student
    • If your student has asthma, allergies, diabetes, or suffers from seizures, complete and upload an Action Plan
    • If your upper school student will participate in upper school seasonal sports, complete the Athletics Waiver & Athletic Trainer Consent-to-Treat Agreement
    • If your student will reside in the dorm or will have local guardians, please complete the Required forms for Dormitory or Day students

    If you need any assistance with this process, please email: nws-mbp@northwestschoo.org.

    If you experience technical issues with Magnus, please visit: https://helpdesk.magnushealth.com/customer/portal/emails/new.

    Immunizations

    Please email your student’s medically verified immunization records to our Health Coordinator, Sierra Maxwell (sierra.maxwell@northwestschool.org) before the first day of school. For more information on this process, please review the message on your My BackPack account.

    Thank you for taking the time to review these health reminders with your family. We appreciate your patience and understanding as we navigate yet another unpredictable school year together. Please understand that as more information is learned about COVID-19 and as different guidelines or recommendations are issued by public health officials, we will continue to update and modify our policies and procedures accordingly. Our goal will always be to prioritize the health and safety of our community members while staying true to our mission and values.

    We look forward to welcoming you all back to campus in September!

    Take care,

    Ray