North Cross community,
We just completed our third round of testing for this year, testing 702 people over two days. I am very pleased to report that we had no positive results.
Our mitigation efforts on campus appear to be working and your efforts to be smart at home are appreciated. The tendency to relax is understandable given these excellent results but let’s continue to stay focused as there is still considerable disease in the Roanoke Valley.
We will test again on Wednesday, October 20, as this is after our Fall Break and immediately before Homecoming festivities. Our Homecoming dance will be held outdoors and we will once again offer testing for dates from other schools.
Should our results on October 20th be comparable to recent results, the Medical Advisory Group appears ready to consider extending the period of time between testing. Again, that depends upon continued good results.
We will also be offering a vaccine clinic on campus on October 15. This will be a Pfizer Clinic and first, second, or booster doses will be available. More information about appointments will be coming out soon.
I do see the Delta Variant starting to wane nationally and it has stabilized in the Roanoke Valley. With vaccine rates slowly rising, I am hopeful we can get back to normal by the holidays. At least one can hope…
Thanks again, congrats to girls tennis for a huge 5-4 win over archrival VES, and a shout out to football for a crushing 59-6 win at Blue Ridge School. There has never been a better time to be at North Cross.
North Cross Community
On Thursday, we tested 663 students, teachers and staff members. We had 7 positives including 3 third graders, 3 sixth graders, and a substitute teacher. Per our policy, all persons testing positive will isolate for ten days and if symptom free for 24 hours may return. We have contact traced each positive and have notified those students that were in close contact. These students will quarantine for five days, test on the sixth day and will return with a negative result.
We have evidence that there was spread within Mrs. Martin’s third grade class and her class will go virtual next week, test on Tuesday and with negative results, will resume in person learning on Thursday. Victor Lamas has provided more information to our third grade in a separate email.
We also have evidence that there was spread in chorus as all three sixth graders sat adjacent to each other in chorus. They were all masked while in class but we have taken further measures by moving chorus outdoors in the future. An added bonus is that we will once again hear beautiful music when on campus.
We are very pleased to have only a 1% positivity rate coming out of the Labor Day holiday and I believe this shows that even with the Delta variant, mask use and classroom air filters seem to limit the spread. Having said that, we have now had three instances of apparent classroom spread this year after not having any classroom spread last year so clearly the Delta variant is a tougher opponent. I hope you will be very cautious when off campus.
It does appear that over our first two schoolwide COVID tests, higher vaccination rates do have an effect on decreasing the spread of the virus. We did have breakthrough infections for two of our teachers but all students that have tested positive have been too young to be eligible for the vaccination. I strongly urge you to get your children vaccinated if they are eligible. We are in the process of arranging another series of vaccination clinics on campus to make it as easy as possible. Currently, we are at 71% vaccination rate in our upper school, significantly lower in the middle school.
I am in contact with a number of other independent schools and as a comparison, The Potomac School has 7-12 vaccination rates of 98% while St. Stephens and Agnes is 96% vaccinated. In addition, I am hearing a number of schools looking at requiring vaccinations as a condition to play winter sports. We will continue to keep an eye on things and will make decisions based upon our desire to remain in-person and as normal as possible.
If you have already had your child vaccinated, please send us a copy of their vaccination certificate for our records. It helps immensely when determining policy for us to know overall vaccination rates.
Thank you for your continued focus on the safety of our campus.
Dear North Cross Community:
As regularly reported, there have been a number of COVID outbreaks in local schools and regretfully, I have similar news to report for North Cross. We have three positive COVID cases, 2 faculty and 1 student in Mrs. Hagan’s JK3 class. Fortunately, all cases show mild symptoms.
We have kept the JK3 classes separate from each other and from other grades as well, so we do not think there is cause for further concern of exposure.
We have decided to test all members of Mrs. Hagan’s JK3 class on Tuesday, curbside at the Carter Athletic Center at 9am, and we will allow students to return on Monday, September 13, with a negative test result.
Out of caution, we are testing all of the Extended Day staff as well, but our teachers and administrators will cover Extended Day, so there is no need at this time to close it down.
This is most likely our first classroom outbreak since and we are taking this very seriously. I want to take this time to stress the importance of mask use and distancing.
We will continue with our school-wide testing on Thursday and will incorporate this information into our future planning.
Hope your long weekend is outstanding.
Dear North Cross Community:
It has been a great beginning of the school year and I thank you all for your patience in carpool as all families find their routine. I promise things will move faster in the upcoming weeks.
It bears repeating but this year marks the largest enrollment in the 77-year history of North Cross School and but for a few grades, we are full. That is a wonderful place to be but it is even better because the families that have joined us are delightful. I encourage all of you to introduce yourselves whenever you get a chance to meet around campus.
We also welcome 24 new boarding students from 14 different countries to include; the United States, United Kingdom, Norway, Germany, Poland, Austria, Romania, Israel, Kenya, Zimbabwe, Nigeria, Maylasia, Vietnam, and China. Most have been actively involved in athletics this summer so they have already blended in, but again, do not be afraid to introduce yourselves and find out a little bit about how they came to North Cross. It makes for a fascinating group of perspectives in our Upper School.
We already have a couple of really neat happenings on campus that I want to share with you. The first is our robotics program is actively recruiting student engineers and I encourage you to watch the following video. We will take battlebots to the next level.
Also, yesterday, in our first athletic competition of the year, Coach Brown won his 200th game as the Raiders defeated Seton School, 1-0, behind the excellent goalkeeping of Denzel Marufu and a timely goal from his son, the thankfully clean shaven, Spencer Brown. We have a remarkable athletic tradition at North Cross with 19 State Championships, and I invite you to come watch. Our athletic calendar is available on our website.
I joked with our students yesterday that we only have 168 days left in the school year and that summer was right around the corner. The reality is that there are so many good things that will happen over the next 168 school days, I don’t want to wish them away, even in jest.
Thanks again for all of your support and I look forward to a great year.
Dear North Cross Community:
On Monday, we tested 627 students, teachers, and staff members. Our results were very encouraging as we only had five positives, all asymptomatic. Four of these were in the lower school and one in the upper school. Each of these positive students will isolate for ten days and if symptom free for 24 hours, will be allowed to return to school. Students identified as in close contact with positives, are required to quarantine for five days, test the sixth day, and return as soon as there is a negative result.
As we were not in school, contact tracing was simpler but we did have siblings of positive cases that also attend North Cross School. Siblings are treated as close contacts and if they can be isolated from the positive student, they may quarantine for five days, test again on the sixth, and may return with a negative test result. If unable to separate from the positive student, siblings will be treated as positive as well. All other students identified as in close contact have been notified.
The Medical Advisory Group met following the return of our most recent test results. Of great interest was whether vaccinated students could be treated differently from unvaccinated students following a close contact. It was decided that because of the transmissibility of the Delta variant, our protocols for vaccinated and unvaccinated students will be the same.
This is an excellent result, consistent with our testing from last year. While we get a better understanding of the transmissibility of the Delta variant, we have decided to test our school population again on Thursday, September 9th. We will continue to watch the community positivity rates and will use those trends to determine if we might reduce the frequency of future COVID testing on our campus. This round of testing will be the first round that we will implement a $10.00 testing fee, with a maximum of $20.00 per family.
For now, it is important that you remain aware of your mask use and your proximity to others. In addition, please do not send children to school if they are symptomatic and do not hesitate to have children tested if you suspect they are showing symptoms. And finally, we continue to recommend vaccines for those eligible. While there are breakthrough cases, vaccines provide protection against serious illness as well as helping limit the transmission.
Thank you all for your support as we do our best to keep North Cross safely in session.
Dear North Cross Community:
We have delayed making COVID response decisions for the upcoming year with the knowledge that the situation is very fluid and we wanted to have the most accurate information available. I appreciate your patience as I know other schools and school districts have been in the news frequently with their decisions.
Last Thursday, the Governor mandated mask use when indoors, on campus, for all students and employees regardless of vaccination status. I know we have enjoyed a relatively mask free summer but we are required to comply with this mandate and I ask that if you are to visit our campus, please wear a mask when indoors.
In addition, our Medical Advisory Group met last night to discuss possible changes in our COVID protocols. As much as we would like to continue the relaxed posture of this summer, it is apparent that the recent spread of the Delta variant will force us to continue to limit group gatherings on campus or move them outdoors. In the near term, this means that new parent orientation and Convocation (8/25) will be held outdoors. Once school starts, we will begin the year with virtual Upper School assembly and the cafeteria will serve meals to be eaten outdoors. Unfortunately, the New Parent Reception at the Headmasters House will be delayed until such a time we feel comfortable hosting a social event of that scale.
We also feel it prudent to continue testing our population on a regular basis in order to confirm our mitigation efforts are working. Last year, we had no indication of any spread of the disease at school and I am confident we will be able to prevent the spread this year as well. Testing will begin on campus, on Monday, August 23rd, in the CAC. As we said last year, the Medical Advisory Group will use the results of this initial round of testing to determine the future testing schedule and quarantining protocol.
You will receive more information regarding this initial test from your division directors. Like last year, you will be required to fill out a PathGroup form and provide copies of your insurance information. All students, vaccinated or not, will be required to test. If you are unable to test on campus, or if it is more convenient to test elsewhere, that is fine. Just make sure your test is a PCR test and not a rapid antigen test, then email email@example.com the results. I know some of you will be getting in that last day or two of vacation.
There is one slight difference in our testing regimen. Last year, we relied upon an army of volunteer swabbers, record keepers, and couriers to meet our testing needs. This year, I would like to pay them a small sum for their work. As such, after the first round of testing, we will be charging $10.00 per test per person. We will add this to your account so you will not need to send money to school with your child. Should we have any money left over in this account at the end of the year, we will pass it on to the Parents Association.
I am disappointed we are not out of the COVID woods yet but remain optimistic that things will get back to normal this school year. I appreciate your support as we make difficult decisions. Please do not hesitate to reach out if you have any questions.
We have completed our penultimate round of testing, and we had four students test positive out of 523 tests, for a positivity rate of .76%. This is an excellent result so thank you to all for their care and efforts to remain safe.
It has been a while since I wrote a letter that talked about more than the most recent COVID testing results. That just seems to be the way the world is these days. But we have had a great school year and with less than 24 school days until the end of the year, I am breathing a sigh of relief and looking forward to next year.
As we close in on the end of the school year faculty, staff, and students have begun planning for many of our traditional end-of-year festivities. For example, the Fat Pencil Ceremony, Academic Awards, Commencement, and many other important and fun events.
We continue to be wary of the spread of COVID variants which have been shown to be more transmissive. In particular, we continue to use masks on campus and while participating in athletics. I appreciate everyone’s continued patience.
Christian J. Proctor, PhD
Dr. Proctor is the ninth Head of School at North Cross and has served as such since 2011. He has more than 30 years of experience in education. He has served as headmaster at Porter-Gaud School in Charleston, South Carolina, St. Martin’s Episcopal School in Metairie, Louisiana, Grace Episcopal School in Monroe, Louisiana, and as Interim Headmaster at Wesley Academy in Houston, Texas. In each location, Dr. Proctor’s tenure was marked by creativity, innovation, and school growth.