I hope my letter finds everyone well but I fear that with respect to our COVID situation, we are looking at a very difficult upcoming 6 weeks. That being said, I believe if we continue to follow our COVID policies at school, we can successfully navigate the difficulties.
Our test results were returned less than 24 hours after we shipped the test kits, a positive sign that despite increasing positivity rates and a rising number of COVID cases, we are still able to access timely results. We had 34 positive test results from 576 samples tested. Of these 34, 27 were students from all grades except for grades 6 and 11. Seven were faculty and staff.
As we have been off campus for the past three weeks, the contact tracing for these positives is much more simple than had we been in school but there were a number of North Cross students required to quarantine due to close contact over the break with students that subsequently tested positive. This number also includes siblings. As always, students testing positive will isolate for 14 days and should they be symptom free for 24 hours, they will be allowed to return to school. Students in close contact will quarantine for 5 days, then may re-test, and with a subsequent negative test, they may return to school.
Our positivity rate is significantly higher than it has been for any previous testing. I will point out that for two weeks, families were much more social, traveled, had siblings return from college, and children playing with non-North Cross neighbors. In this way, I believe our North Cross positivity rate has begun to approximate the community positivity rate. Now that we have identified most of the positive cases in our school community, we can begin school next Monday utilizing our safest mitigation practices. Families can also begin a more normal schedule that includes in the words of Leslie Jordan, a little more “hunkering down.” Let’s place an emphasis on safe practices so that we can return our positivity rate to something significantly less than that which it is currently. Now is not the time to ignore the disease.
Our decision to go virtual for the first week back proved to be a good decision for had we returned in person and had 34 positives across faculty, staff, and 12 different grade levels, we might have been forced to go to virtual learning for a much longer period of time. We will continue to aggressively test our community, will maintain social distancing and mask use, and with your help at home, I believe we can get through the remainder of the second trimester.
As I reported over break, we had an outbreak among basketball players, just before Christmas, that resulted in 8 players testing positive. These students have completed their period of isolation and will be back on campus next week. With remaining basketball players having been tested twice in the interim, I am hopeful to return to our seasons. Prior to resuming our seasons, however, winter athletics will be reviewed by our Medical Advisory Group in light of recent testing results.
With the events in our nation’s capital, the continued explosion in COVID rates, and a slower than expected roll out of the vaccine, 2021 has not exactly started off the way we had all hoped. But I remain confident not just that there has never been a better time to be at North Cross, but also that we can be smart about what we are doing so that the education of our children will not be interrupted. I appreciate all of your help in this matter.
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.