We were informed today that one of our Grade 4 learners has tested positive for COVID-19. The learner is currently self-isolating at home.
We consulted at length with the Department of Health this morning and they have assessed the risk to other learners and staff members. I am pleased to inform you that the Department of Health has confirmed that the risk of transmission is extremely low, due to our excellent preventative measures, and that all learners may continue attending school without fear of heightened exposure. Due to the ‘silo’ method we employ, which effectively keeps all classes and grades separated throughout the day, we are able to significantly limit the possibility of cross-infection between grades.
Since 2020, the relevant health authorities have learnt so much more about the manner in which the COVID virus spreads, what measures work best in preventing its spread and its potential impact on individuals and groups.
Accordingly, the Department of Health’s assessment has also determined that the risk is nominal to the extent that even the learners in the affected Grade 4 class may continue attending school and are not required to isolate. This conclusion would have been inconceivable during the early stages of the pandemic in 2020. Today, our responses to positive cases are more realistic and measured and considerably less disruptive, whilst still prioritising safety.
Transmission of COVID-19 occurs primarily due to ‘close contact’ between individuals. The Centre for Disease Control (CDC) definition of ‘close contact’ is engaging in a conversation with another individual, within a distance of 1 metre, without a face mask, for a minimum duration of 15 minutes.
When these criteria are met, you are considered to be a ‘close contact’ and at greater risk of contracting the virus. Close contact of this description is never permitted to take place between learners throughout the day at John Wesley School, be they in their classrooms or outside at their break venues. The Department of Health considers these aspects when determining the level of risk that accompanies the identification of positive COVID-19 cases within the school.
Due to limits of disclosure, as prescribed by law, and our duty to protect affected learners from stigmatisation, we do not divulge the identity or the specific class of these learners. Due to this, we appreciate that there will be heightened concern amongst our Grade 4 learners and their parents at present. All learners in the affected Grade 4 class have been given a letter to take home to their parents with more detailed information included. If you are a Grade 4 parent and you do not receive a letter today, you can confidently assume that the affected learner is not in your child’s class.
In closing, we remind all parents that there is no obligation on your part to send your child/children to school if you perceive the risk to be too great at any stage during the course of this pandemic.