Weekly PCR tests suspended

Chloe Park

The school announced revised COVID-19 health protocols in its “Return to School” document Aug. 8. Among the policies are compulsory self-testing before returning to campus, optional masking and mandatory vaccination. Schoolwide PCR testing will no longer be required.

Associate Head of School Laura Ross said although COVID-19 is unpredictable, she thinks the new policies are appropriate for the current situation.

“Throughout the past three years, we have tried to not set policies too far in advance because if the pandemic has taught us anything, it is that circumstances shift,” Ross said. “There could be a time when we need to reintroduce mandatory indoor masking, or there could be a time when, God forbid, we have to be remote again, but we cannot predict what will happen.”

Ross also said the school’s policies align with Los Angeles County Department of Public Health (LADPH) guidelines. She said a lack of parent pushback makes her confident about the policy adjustments.

“We always follow LADPH protocols, and we do not know how those will shift, but for the moment, we are happy that the surge in Los Angeles seems to be declining,” Ross said. “When we sent out the protocols, we got almost zero responses, which lead me to believe that people think that we are taking the right approach and that people feel comfortable coming back.”

  The school introduced a COVID-19 vaccine mandate in August 2021. The COVID-19 protocol document says all members of the school community are expected to stay up to date on booster shots.

The school plans to fully reopen campus programs, athletics, performing arts, student travel and other activities without capacity limits, policies that follow LADPH guidelines.

President Rick Commons said he believes the school community will continue to stay safe even with the relaxed COVID-19 policies.

“We believe that people are going to be responsible for self-monitoring, communicating with the community health office and keeping the community healthy,” Commons said. “[The school’s] two priorities are keeping everyone safe and having school in person as normally as we can.”

The school also included a Community Health Honor Code in the document, which says members of the school community are expected to protect themselves and others by monitoring for symptoms, testing and choosing to wear a mask when indoors.

Contact tracing and notification of close contacts will occur in the event of a positive case, according to the COVID-19 guidelines. In accordance with LADPH guidelines, those who test positive must isolate for a minimum of five days and can return to campus if they test negative, are fever-free for 24 hours and have mild or no symptoms. Those who return to campus between days six and ten after the positive test must wear a mask through day 11.

Elliot Lichtman ’23 said  though he plans to continue with wearing masks indoors, he is not opposed to the new optional masking policy.

“Ultimately, we have to start taking steps to end this at some point, and I am confident that if relaxed mask policies are leading to problems, then the school will be able to appropriately adjust,” Lichtman said. “Whenever a teacher or student requested that the people around them wear masks during the mask-optional times last year, everyone was accommodating, so hopefully, in the cases that matter most,  the community will continue to do its part to ensure that looser restrictions do not become a problem.”