24 September 2021

Covid-19 updates (2021-22)

Dear NOVA community,

Update as of September 24th:

It’s been an exciting week with all students back on campus, a hopeful step forward in our return to normality. Although our full campus has made us optimistic for the future, we have to remember the challenges that await. We are right at the beginning of what could potentially be the fall/winter pandemic wave, which requires us to increase our vigilance.

For this reason, we want to remind families of expectations in regards to filling out the Health Screening questionnaire on a daily basis, with the most up-to-date information. In addition, carrying an ID card is important as we only allow campus access to students we’ve health screened. The importance of wearing the appropriate type of a mask at all times when indoors cannot be underscored, and we therefore have to remind families of the appropriate type of face masks for students, with single layered/loose fitting masks, such as the surgical ones, not approved for campus use. We’ve now had five weeks of schooling and therefore should have established certain minimal expectations. Please know that we would be contacting parents of students who don’t uphold our protocols on a continuous basis. 

Update as of September 17th:

I’m happy to report that at yesterday's CMT meeting we were able to reach a consensus on the school's preparedness to welcome all grade 9-12 students back on campus for in-person learning, starting from this Monday, September 20th. We believe in light of how the first four weeks of schooling have been conducted and the currently declining covid-19 numbers, we’re provided with a window of opportunity to bring all students back on campus. At the same time, we plan to remain vigilant and closely track both the epidemiological situation in our wider community and in our school in order to decide on next steps. As we invite all Upper Secondary students back on campus, we would like to hear from those families that plan on keeping their children in DL. If you are one of those families whose children will continue with DL, please fill out the following FORM, so we know in what classes faculty would need to continue streaming their class to students remaining home. 

Update as of September 10th:

We’ve seen a further improvement in epidemiological numbers in the last week, which warrants the Crisis Management Team (CMT) to consider bringing all grade 9-12 students back to school for continuous in-person learning. The CMT will meet next Thursday, September 16th, to consider extending this invitation as early as Monday, September 20th. The final decision will be shared in next Friday's communication. 

Starting from this week we were informed of Covid-19 protocol changes initiated by the Center for Public Health. In what we believe is a positive development, in order to minimise the amount of in-person learning disruption, students and staff considered close contacts, will not automatically be sent into quarantine, and instead a risk assessment will be performed by the Health and Safety Committee (HSC), which will include considerations such as: masks (including the type and fit), distance, disinfection, high risk contacts (handshakes, hugs, eating/drinking), and type of indoor space including quality of ventilation. When even one of the criteria is not fully met, the student/staff member would be considered a high risk close contact and would need to be sent into a 14 day quarantine. 

All students and staff considered low risk close contacts, will not be placed in quarantine, and will be required to undergo a Rapid Antigen Test (RAT) at school, 3 to 5 days from their last exposure, except for fully immunised students and staff, in order to be able to continue schooling/working in-person. We are, however, going to quarantine all students and staff sharing an indoor space, when we see that a second infected individual is registered within the cohort, potentially as a result of the initial positive case. We plan to communicate each case of a positive individual to parents of affected students, and staff considered close contacts, when occurring within an office or classroom setting, even if it doesn’t result in a quarantine recommendation for any students or staff members.

Update as of September 3rd:

Another successful school week is behind us. We’re now fully transitioned from summer break with school in full swing. Faculty has delved into their curriculum, while students have developed routines, with our campus beginning to resemble its pre-pandemic version. We try to celebrate the positive steps forward, while being reminded of the challenges that lie ahead. This week we had to quarantine our first groups of students, and expect with the current epidemiological numbers that we’re going to see other such cases in the coming weeks. We intend to communicate  timely and transparently when such developments occur to those directly impacted, while continuing to depend on all community stakeholders to also report any developments of concern.

We’ve been encouraged by the continually growing immunisation rates, with 30% of our Secondary student body having been at least partially immunised. As a result, many students in the Upper Secondary School (grades 9-12) have opted to benefit from continuously attending in-person classes. At the same time, we’ve received inquiries as to when we intend to invite the remainder of students back. We’re closely monitoring the current transmission rates, and their declining trend, with the hope we can do away with the cohort system in the coming weeks. Our current conservative approach is based on our goal to limit the number of learning interruptions and ensure that we limit any potential internal viral spread. 

Update as of August 27th:

On Wednesday, August 25th, we held our first town hall meeting of the year, with the Health and Safety Committee (HSC) presenting the school’s latest protocols, and also responding to parent inquiries. We wanted to thank all families that took an active part, and hope others will join us on future such occasions. For the ones unable to attend, we're including the video of the meeting, and a link to the actual presentation. We will also encourage you to visit our covid-19 resource page, where you can find the latest information related to the school’s response in regards to the pandemic, inclusive of the school’s current risk level, in addition to many other useful resources.  

Update as of August 20th:

I’m happy to report that the Crisis Management team confirmed our previously shared plan, to  commence the school year on Monday, August 23rd, for all grade levels PK3 - 12 for continuous in-person learning, with the exception of Upper Secondary students (grade 9-12) who are initially invited back in cohorts (yellow and grey). Our newly updated Covid-19 Procedures and Protocols have been formally approved by the Commision on Infectious diseases, and we also received the Ministry of Education's green light to go ahead as planned. We’re happy to learn that public schools are planned to reopen on September 1st, with most students invited back on campus. We support this decision, although we are taking a more cautious initial approach, before ultimately transitioning to a similar model. 

Update as of August 13th:

Per our published calendar, we’re looking forward to welcoming students from Monday, August 23rd, provided Government approval. Should there be any changes to the school’s start date we will inform you accordingly. We’re happy to invite all grade levels PK3 - 12 back on campus, for the full school week (Monday through Friday) and an extended school day:

  • Grade PK3-5 from 8am to 2:20pm 

  • Grade 6-8 from 8:15am to 1:35pm

  • Grade 9-12 from 8:15am to 1pm and synchronous DL from 2pm to 2:30pm

  • After School Activities and SuperNOVA sports from 2:40pm to 4pm

We’re closely following the developing epidemiological situation, but based on our current assessment we are planning to invite all grade PK3-8 students on campus for continuous in-person learning, while grade 9-12 students will initially be invited back in cohorts (yellow and grey), with the plan to soon transition them all back on campus for in-person learning. The Crisis Management Team  will meet next week to either confirm or modify this decision, an update you’ll receive before the official start of the school year.