(303) 652-0130 enrollment@bvwaldorf.org

The last two years: We are almost two years into the COVID pandemic, and not every family that is enrolled this year has been at BVWS from the start. With that in mind, I would like to review how the pandemic guidance has evolved. We are fortunate that in Colorado the Governor and the health authorities have prioritized keeping schools open since the summer of 2020, giving all schools clear guidelines and substantial support (in the form of free supplies like masks and rapid tests). The guidance that is binding on BVWS comes from the Boulder County Public Health department (BCPH). As School Director I participate in weekly and bi-weekly conference calls with BCPH along with the other leaders of independent and charter schools in the county. On these calls BCPH explains their policies and the rationale behind them. I also have the personal cell phone number of several of their epidemiologists, and have when necessary called them to get clarification on unique situations.

As a school operating in Boulder County, we are required to follow these BCPH policies. And these policies evolve as the pandemic situation changes. In the beginning, we were shut down for three months (March to June, 2020). During the next school year (2020-21) the emphasis was on “flatten the curve.” They still wanted as much in-person school as possible, but the goal was to stop any spread of the Coronavirus anywhere. To that end, if we had even one case in a class, the entire cohort had to quarantine for 14 days. If we’d had more than five cases at a time, they could well have shut the whole school down for a few weeks.

Then at the start of this 2021-22 school year, the priorities changed. With over 70% of eligible residents in the county vaccinated, the public health priority became keeping schools running in-person as much as possible, even at the risk of slightly higher transmission. The first full pandemic school year had meanwhile shown that there was very little actual transmission in schools, and most kids who got the virus did so outside of school. It turns out that with mitigation measures, schools can be very safe. So last August the rule became that cohorts in schools did not need to quarantine in case of in-school exposure, as long as mitigation measures had been followed (exposure outside of school still required individual quarantine).

BVWS has always been fully compliant (and even ahead of the curve) on mitigation measures. And indeed, this year more than 10 students at our school have already had Covid, and none of them got it here or passed it on to anyone while at school. We have been proud of all of our stringent layers of mitigation, thanks to which in the fall and early winter of this school year we have not had any cases of transmission at school – despite rising positivity levels in the county. Our layers of mitigation continue to include: small cohorts and class-sizes, outdoor classrooms, good ventilation indoors, indoor masking, community commitments to monitoring symptoms and staying home as needed, washing hands, respiratory etiquette, and post-exposure testing.

The Omicron surge
 now is promising extremely high case counts in the county, and across the country. In these circumstances, BCPH has reaffirmed their commitment to keeping schools open, even going so far as to loosen the rules in order to decrease the likelihood of schools having to shut down. They’ve shortened the quarantine time for infected staff from ten to five days so that staffing shortages will be less likely to force school closures. Returning staff must still be free of symptoms. Where applicable, BVWS also will be testing returning staff daily to ensure they are not still infectious.

BVWS is fortunate to have this additional testing tool for managing Covid risk in our classrooms. We stocked up on free rapid tests last spring when the State was giving them out to schools, and before they became scarce. So we are able to bring additional clarity to situations where it is unclear whether or not there is any transmission risk. For example, last November we had two cases in 5th grade. Testing the whole class allowed us to identify who was carrying the virus even though none of the kids were ill. This week testing allowed us to verify that the 6th grade remained free of infection. This clarity helped prevent the possibility of any in-school transmission.

Testing is always optional, and we will notify you in advance if we plan to test your student. Under certain circumstances opting out of testing may require staying home for a longer period. This is determined by BCPH guidelines, not by BVWS. We are always happy to explain the current rules, and can point you to the governing documents if you are interested in the legalities.

All of us at BVWS are grateful to our community for your support in making this difficult school year unfold relatively smoothly for our students. The benefits of in-person school are well documented, and we are all doing our part to ensure that the school is a safe and healthy place for student learning.

Daniel Hindes
School Director