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.
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.