Second Semester Updates, Hello 2022!

Posted by Lauren Manfreda on 1/7/2022 4:00:00 PM

Happy New Year!  I am counting on 2022 being more friendly than 2021 was, but snow and ice impacting our first day back wasn’t friendly at all!  Thanks to everyone for being so flexible yet again!  

I have a few updates for our ECS community as we begin our second semester.

Lunch: Our elementary students have been eating lunch while seated at separate desks, silent for their 15- 20 minute unmasked eating time, and then remasking. This works for elementary students who enjoy the videos they watch and don’t seem to mind the brief silent time too much, and the elimination of talking while unmasked decreases their risks.  We do not need to change this procedure at this time.

However, we knew that the elementary plan was not developmentally appropriate for middle school students. Instead, they sit at tables in groups facing one another. They talk while they eat and have that social time that is so essential for adolescents.  When Omicron numbers increased dramatically over track out, we had to consider our options for decreasing that risk during middle school lunch.  We looked at what a lot of other schools are doing. Some eat in total silence, some sit in rows all facing the same direction, some just have a normal lunch like in previous years. Some schools only allow students to be unmasked for 15 minutes to silently eat while unmasked.  

We decided on a combination of a few of those plans:  Our middle school students stay masked until all students are seated and ready to eat, unmask for 15 minutes of eating and talking, and then all who are finished go outside while those who need to finish stay inside.  Ensuring students are only unmasked for 15 minutes decreases our requirement to quarantine anyone who has been unmasked near a student who tests positive. All students are seated with friends and can talk through this entire lunch and recess time.   Their total lunch/recess time has not changed.

We will monitor our students and adjust if needed and hopefully relax these procedures soon when Covid statistics in our area begin to decrease.   We are posting the start and stop times for the 15 minute eating period to help students manage their time and eat! Middle school parents should note that it might be beneficial to adjust breakfast and lunch foods to ensure what is eaten is especially healthy and very filling while we are following this lunch procedure.

Covid protocols: The state is also providing updates to the Strong Schools toolkit located at https://covid19.ncdhhs.gov/media/164/open.  The guidance is scheduled to be updated again within the week, but there is one significant change everyone should know about. The required quarantine period for someone exposed to Covid but unvaccinated has been decreased to 5 days off-campus. In some specific cases, the person would be required to follow the 5 day quarantine with another 5 days back on campus but masked at all times (for us this would mean masked at recess).   While I wish this was the last change, I’m certain there will be more. 

We asked PAWS to put out an SOS asking for a group of parents who would be willing to serve as emergency substitutes for their child’s class or grade level in a situation where we could not get a substitute and other options would significantly compromise our school program.  Please know that one of our biggest worries is that an outbreak among our staff would force us back into remote instruction.  We’ve seen this with other schools and want to ensure that it does not happen to us.  Preparing for worst case scenarios allows us to maintain the integrity of our core classes, our enrichment and elective classes, our student support programs, and the logistics of our lunch, recess, and carpool.  While we hope to never need these willing helpers, we are so incredibly grateful that we have more options moving forward!  Anyone willing to join this list or interested in joining our regular substitute list should email Janet Van Hall, jvanhall@endeavorcharter.com.

Thank you for all you continue to do for us during this on-going unprecedented time!

Christi Whiteside, MSA
Director
Endeavor Charter School