The Wardlaw+Hartridge School's current health policy is documented below. Please note, as guidance continues to shift on some these ever-changing matters, policies may need to be revised.
- Latest Health Policy Update - August 2022
- Pandemic Policy Update - May 6, 2022
- Pandemic Policy Update – March 2022
- Head of School's Update on Quarantine and Testing Jan. 17, 2022
- Open Plan for Fall 2021
- Fall 2021 Opening Task Force
Dear W+H Parents and Students,
We are at the cusp of opening for the third autumn of the COVID-19 era. The pandemic is still with us, of course, but conditions have changed dramatically. In the Fall of 2020, we had little clear idea of how it would unfold and whether we would be able to prevent outbreaks and remain fully operational. With intense effort and scrutiny of conditions, we weathered that storm. By Fall of 2021, we had good news of vaccine availability for parents and some students, but concerns about the Delta variant, with the Omicron one still on the horizon. In the latter half of the year, we were able to ease some restrictions and move closer to normal operations, but concerns persisted about how this would affect us. As we enter school year 2022-23, conditions are more favorable for school operations, which is reflected in the approach described below, but we will continue to monitor trends and reserve the right to take stronger intervention measures if and when conditions change.
As it stands, the currently dominant strains are highly transmissible but not severe for our students. Faculty, staff, and households with elderly residents or immunocompromised members are at higher risk. Vaccines are now available for all of our students, and everyone five years or older is eligible for a booster. A second booster is available mainly for people age 50 or over. Omicron-specific boosters will probably be available by early fall, but we are not sure how these will be rolled out.
Guidance on exactly how to plan vaccination regimens is varied, but this article is helpful. Here’s what we know to be true: if you place a high priority on avoiding the disease and also on mitigating severity if you are exposed, you will limit indoor social interaction, wear masks if you are engaged in indoor social interaction, and make sure your boosters are as updated as possible. Please consult your physician for guidance specific to your circumstances and goals.
Our plans as we open the school year are as follows:
- In general, our campus policy on masks will be mask-optional. There may be places and times where we will require masks and we will expect compliance in those situations. We will require all visitors to the nurse’s office to wear a mask.
- We will not conduct ongoing surveillance testing or ask for daily pre-arrival symptom screening via Parent Locker.
- If a student feels ill, regardless of any COVID testing, they should stay home.
- We do ask that all students take rapid antigen tests at home either the night before orientation programs or before the opening day of school. Parents and students who have an orientation program should test prior to those events. If opening day is your first day, test at that time. We will not ask for proof of testing but will trust that you will do it and, obviously, stay home if there is a positive result.
- We will continue to emphasize hand-washing and maintain our heightened daily sanitation regimen. We continue to operate cutting-edge air purification systems within our HVAC systems, which is helpful for colds, allergens, and other air quality issues.
- We have removed the Plexiglas barriers at our lunch tables.
- While we will limit close physical contact, we will not impose a strict social distancing regimen.
- Parent visitors will no longer be asked for vaccination or recent testing information, though they will fill out a symptom screener.
- Zoom access may be available for students whose quarantines extend beyond five days, at the discretion of the teacher. Generally, if a student is not well, they should not attend school, which includes Zoom attendance. Teachers will provide accommodations to support quarantined students’ efforts to keep up with their classes and catch up as needed upon return to school. We have found providing extensive Zoom access has not been beneficial, and it will be the exception, not the rule, going forward at W+H and at most of our peer schools.
- If a student tests positive, please notify our Pandemic Response Team at pandemicresponse@whschool.
org. We will provide guidance in response, which will require isolation at home for five full days, followed by five days of mask wearing. If symptoms extend beyond the five days, isolation at home will continue until symptoms fade, which will then be followed by five days with a mask. We will not conduct contact tracing or impose quarantines on those who have been exposed.
- If conditions raise concerns we need to share, we will communicate with our families as needed, but we will not send updates with the frequency that we maintained earlier in the pandemic.
This school year should not be burdened as much by COVID-19 as the last two, and we look forward to maintaining attention to the vital business of teaching, learning, and growth with less distraction.
With all best wishes,
Andy Webster, for the Pandemic Response Team
May 6, 2022
Dear W+H Parents,
As we have shared in prior communications, our COVID-19 protocols are under
continual review and are updated as conditions change and expert medical advice
warrants. Upon consultation with our medical team, we are writing with changes to our
protocol which go into effect today:
When COVID-19 cases emerge, we will no longer conduct contact tracing as our recent
experience has indicated that it is no longer an effective practice. People who test
positive will stay home for five days, or longer if symptoms remain present. Those who
would be considered close contacts, will be allowed to remain in school if they remain
asymptomatic, regardless of vaccination status. As a result of this change, we are
discontinuing the use of Parent Locker at this time.
Students, faculty, and staff who are unwell must stay home. If the School Nurse
determines a child presents as feeling sick, parents will be notified to pick up their child.
As has been our illness policy, absences of three days or longer will require a doctor’s
note for return to school. If an ill person tests positive for COVID-19, please submit the
test result to firstname.lastname@example.org. The five-day isolation protocol will then
go into effect followed by a masking requirement for five additional days.
Students who are sick should remain at home, rest, and recover before resuming
academics. The school will endeavor to provide, but cannot guarantee, Zoom access to
asymptomatic students who have tested positive for COVID-19. Please check our
Parent Student Handbook for our comprehensive Illness Policy.
We will continue with our mask-optional approach at this time; however, we strongly
recommend masking while at school. People who are household close contacts should
mask for 10 days. In some circumstances, the school will require masks for a period of
time when a positive case or cases have been identified within a class or grade. In
addition, we strongly recommend that all community members obtain full vaccination
against COVID-19 including a booster.
Thank you for your ongoing support of our COVID-19 mitigation efforts.
Andy Webster, Head of School
Pandemic Policy Update – March 2022
The expiration of the state mask mandate allows schools to adopt mask-optional policies if they choose to do so. CDC and state guidance offers support for doing so; it is also couched in language about understanding the particular circumstances in each individual school and about monitoring future conditions that could cause further changes in policy.
Local case levels, hospitalization rates, and pediatric hospitalization rates are relatively low, in steady decline after the January peaks. The case level seems to have plateaued over the last week. The CDC’s new Community Level measures describe Middlesex County as Low Risk. The NJ Department of Health risk matrix describes our region as Moderate transmission. The rate of transmission has remained below 1, and we have had a very small number of cases within our school community over the last month. The positivity rate on tests in our county has been at around 4% in recent weeks. State and national guidance essentially states that while risk continues, it is outweighed by the downside of continued masking and is low enough that it makes sense to prioritize the right of people to choose whether to mask over the community need for the highest level of risk mitigation.
COVID-19 has thrown many curve balls but has followed certain broad patterns. One of them has been that when restrictions are lightened and the frequency and intensity of social interactions has increased, cases have swelled or surged. That has been most true in winter conditions, but has also occurred around Independence Day, Labor Day and so on. Recently, many colleges in the northeast have seen a swelling, not a surge, and have adjusted policies to try to drive cases back down. There are now some states lifting the mask mandate, and we do not know whether removing that layer of intervention will result in substantial resurgence of the virus.
Wardlaw+Hartridge Revised Mask Policy
Wardlaw+Hartridge will move to a mask-optional policy in all grades when we come back from Spring Break on March 28. This includes bus travel. For the week of March 7, we will remain masked for all indoor activities except lunch, as we have been. That week and the two-week break will allow us to monitor the effect elsewhere of mask-optional policies. We will test all students and employees during the week of April 4, which will indicate whether we are seeing growth in asymptomatic cases. If prevalence of the virus in our school remains low, we will suspend the weekly testing program. If a viral surge occurs during the time period before March 28, we will review this decision and delay it if need be.
We will speak with students about what mask-optional means, and we anticipate that many students and adults on campus will continue to wear masks. Everyone’s individual decision must be respected, and negative comments about another person’s decision will not be tolerated. It is also important to note that there may be times when conditions indicate that we need to return to mandatory masking. We will continue active monitoring of local and school-based conditions and adjust our policies whenever needed.
Wardlaw+Hartridge will shorten its COVID-19 quarantine policy to five days for all positive cases and for unvaccinated close contacts effective immediately, with the date of a positive test or symptom emergence counting as Day 0, in line with CDC guidance. Those who reach the end of that quarantine and remain symptomatic will need to continue the quarantine until symptoms resolve. Others will return to school but will need to wear masks indoors on Days 6-10. Vaccinated close contacts will not be required to quarantine, but will need to take a PCR test after 5 days.
General Illness Policy
- For anyone who develops symptoms described on our symptoms list, we will initially presume it to be COVID-19; those people will begin the 5 full-day quarantine. The date of emergence of symptoms will be Day 0 (which is how the recent guidance counts it), and quarantine will last until the end of Day 5, with return on Day 6 as long as the person is asymptomatic. No test will be required to return at the end of a full quarantine and no medical clearance note is needed. People returning from quarantine must wear a mask on Days 6-10.
- If a PCR or proctored rapid antigen test (not a home test kit) produces negative results, that person can return to school prior to the end of a full quarantine with a medical clearance note once symptoms have resolved (i.e., a doctor will determine diagnosis and treatment). If the PCR test yields positive results, then the person will complete the 5 full-day quarantine as described above.
- As always, students with non-Covid illnesses who miss three or more consecutive days must present a doctor’s clearance note to return to school.
With masks coming off for many and spring allergies in the air, we expect a higher rate of students with respiratory symptoms. The determination of which students must be sent home with more than just a sniffle is based on the judgment of our school nurse. Please recognize that sometimes parents may disagree with her judgment, but her judgment must be respected, and any concerns must be presented with civility and the understanding that her job is to maintain the wellness of all our students to the highest degree possible.
The Wardlaw+Hartridge School anticipates opening in person on September 10, 2021 for the Fall 2021 semester. Our process and practices are aligned with guidance from national, state, and local authorities, and safety is our top priority. The school has focused on four areas, including:
- Health & Wellness
- Schedule & Calendar
- Extra- & Co-Curricular Activities
Having come through more than a year of pandemic teaching and learning conditions, we look forward to
circumstances that do not require quite as much modification from our usual school conditions. The pandemic
remains in flux, though, and we still need to plan with safety and flexibility in mind. We continue to consult CDC guidelines, state regulations and directives, World Health Organization guidance, medical experts, and a range of scientific studies to guide our decision-making. The ability to run our school safely for all students and employees remains the top priority, and we understand that all plans might need revision depending on how circumstances change.
Our expectations regarding masking will depend on local conditions and vaccination prevalence. Governor Murphy’s recent announcement notwithstanding, we may need to require masks for at least the initial segment of the school year, and requirements may vary throughout the year.
Below are our intervention strategies as we plan for a more normal school year, but we will remain vigilant and flexible, with especially careful monitoring of transmission among the younger children who cannot yet be vaccinated.
- Students will be expected to attend classes in person, as will all teachers unless they are quarantined or are unable to enter the USA.
- All students and employees will maintain up-to-date COVID-19 vaccination records with the Pandemic Response Coordinator as we continue contact tracing and properly assess risk factors to our student body and among our employees.
- If necessary, we may choose to phase in our opening over the first few days.
- Drop off times will no longer be staggered, but will revert to the previous model of 8 a.m. for all divisions.
- Vaccination will not be mandatory for enrollment at this point, though this may be subject to change once vaccines are available at all ages. Vaccines may be required for higher risk, optional activities.
- Efforts to use outdoor space for classes will continue in 2021-22.
- Surveillance testing for COVID-19 will continue in 2021-22; the schedule for testing may be modified.
- The lunch program will continue to feature Plexiglas dividers and a limited number of students in each lunch period and at each table.
The following faculty, staff, and administrators make up The Wardlaw+Hartridge School Reopening Task Force:
Mr. Andrew Webster
Dr. Bob Bowman
Mrs. Silvia Sollenberger Davis
Mrs. Sharon Byrne
Mr. John Pratt
Ms. Zoe Bongiovanni
Mrs. Angela Farese
Mr. Kyle Modes
Mr. John Sartor
Ms. Donna Brack
Mr. Kostas Georgiou
Mrs. Kerry O'Neill
Dr. Ayesha Sitlani
Ms. Dina Congregane
|Mr. Gerard Gonnella '89
Director of Admission & Financial Aid
Director of the International
Mr. Ryan Oliveira
Mr. Marc Spivak
|Dr. Corinna Crafton
Head of Middle School
Dean of Teaching & Learning
|Mr. Karl Miran
|Mr. Rob Rizzo '89
Board of Trustees -
|Mr. Leaford Thompson
Superintendent of Buildings & Grounds