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- Vaccination Information
- For Parents
- For Employees
- What to Expect at School
- Health Protocols for the 2021/22 Academic Year
- If a COVID Surge Returns
- Other Questions
Why are you requiring the vaccine? Who will be required to get vaccinated?
As we look to open fully in person in the fall, the Medical Advisory Team (MAT) has reviewed data available and has recommended full vaccination for all employees and eligible students, including those 12 years old and older. As of June 2021, more than 170 million Americans have received the vaccine and 600,000 Americans have died from the disease. As a preventative step against future variants and surges in area cases, we are looking to take measures that are proven to reduce the risk of COVID-19 significantly, which the vaccine does. Additionally, this vaccine will enable the School to continue in-person learning, which is core to our philosophy and the emotional well-being of our students.
What exactly does fully vaccinated mean?
A person is considered fully vaccinated two weeks after completing the full series of the vaccination (two doses or a single dose).
When does the requirement take effect?
All students (ages 12+) should be fully vaccinated prior to their first in-person activity on campus (e.g. pre-season, orientation, first day of class). To attend school, students (or their parents or guardians) must upload proof of vaccination to Magnus Health (click "Health Forms" on the the Parent Portal") by September 3; to participate in athletic pre-season, students must be fully vaccinated by August 15. Partially vaccinated students participating in the Middle School Jumpstart and ninth grade transition programs (for students new to Sidwell Friends) may participate in person, but will be required to be fully vaccinated by the September 3 deadline.
Employees will need to be fully vaccinated by August 23, and should upload vaccination proof through the Faculty/Staff portal (look for “Update your Health Information” which authenticates you for Magnus).
Is the School allowing exemptions and how should I request an exemption?
The School will permit medical exemptions and religious exemptions, in either case following written requests and appropriate certifications (including, in the event of a medical exemption, from a health care provider). Employees requesting an exemption should contact Human Resources. Parents requesting an exemption for a student should contact Health Services as soon as possible.
How do I report that I’ve received my vaccination?
Students and employees will be required to submit proof of vaccination (scanned copy of a CDC vaccination card or other official vaccination documentation) along with other required health forms to their Magnus Health account, which is accessible from the Parent (click “Health Forms” for Magnus Health authentication). Employees should to go the Faculty/Staff portal (look for “Update your Health Information” which authenticates you for Magnus Health).
Does it matter that the vaccine is only approved with an Emergency Use Authorization (EUA)?
No. In order to stem the spread of COVID, the FDA approved vaccines from Pfizer, Moderna, and Johnson & Johnson for an EUA after clinical trials. Only the Pfizer vaccine has so far been approved for children (12+). Recent studies have indicated that the vaccines are safe and effective. To learn what the EUA entails, visit the CDC website.
Are you asking for proof of vaccination for children?
Yes, Upper and Middle School students (12+) will not be permitted to attend classes or participate in extra- and co-curricular activities without proof of vaccination status. Please upload all documentation into Magnus Health, which can be accessed through the Parent Portal.
Is the vaccine safe for children?
The FDA has approved the two-dose Pfizer vaccine for children 12 years and older. While there have been reports of rare side effects, such as myocarditis and pericarditis, a recent study published in The New England Journal of Medicine suggests that the Pfizer vaccine is safe and effective for children in the 12-to-15 age group. While these rare side effects are being closely monitored, patients experiencing these conditions have responded well to treatment and have recovered quickly. The CDC, the American Academy of Pediatrics, and our own Medical Advisory Team report that the health risks of directly contracting COVID-19 significantly outweigh the risks from the vaccination, including experiencing a rare side effect such as myocarditis. Learn more about the efficacy research on the CDC website.
Where do I find a vaccination for my child?
Until there is future approval from the FDA for other vaccines, you will need to find a provider of the Pfizer two-dose vaccination for children. Many insurance providers offer information and clinics. There are also state- and county-operated vaccination sites. CVS and Safeway have also partnered to offer vaccination appointments.
Currently, only the Pfizer two-dose vaccine is available for students 12 years of age and older. Can I wait for approval of a single-dose vaccine?
We encourage families to schedule a vaccination appointment for the currently approved Pfizer vaccine as soon as possible to ensure that students are fully vaccinated before their first in-person commitment at School. Waiting for approval for a single-dose vaccine may prevent timely vaccination and may delay your child’s return to campus.
My child will turn 12 during the School year. When will they have to get vaccinated?
Students who turn 12 during the school year will be given up to two months after their 12th birthday to get fully vaccinated.
My child is younger than 12. If the FDA approves an EUA for a vaccine for younger children, will you require my child to receive the vaccine?
We know there is a lot to consider. We are monitoring the situation carefully. Once the FDA approves the vaccine for children under the age of 12, we will convene the MAT and carefully evaluate how to proceed.
What if my child needs an exemption?
The School will permit medical exemptions and religious exemptions, in either case following written requests and appropriate certifications (including, in the event of a medical exemption, from a health care provider). Unvaccinated students with approved religious and medical exemptions will not be allowed to participate in certain school activities, including high-contact sports (wrestling), playing wind instruments indoors, singing indoors, and participating in school trips. Forms for exemptions can be found at www.sidwell.edu/besidwell.
Will you allow students to opt for distance learning rather than learning in-person on campus?
Our goal is to return all students to on-campus in-person learning. Students will not be able to select distance learning as an option next year. Students who are required to be absent from school for a prolonged period due to serious illness or exposure to COVID-19 will work with their divisional student support teams to devise a plan for continued learning that may involve both synchronous and asynchronous remote learning approaches. Students who are absent for a short period of time will make up missed work asynchronously.
What if I don’t want to vaccinate my child at this time? What will happen?
Parents who do not wish to vaccinate eligible children for philosophical reasons should reach out to their principal. The COVID-19 vaccination, like all required vaccinations, is a requirement for attending school and any co-curricular or extra-curricular activities as a matter of the collective health of the community. A family wishing to be released from their child's enrollment contract should speak directly with their principal.
My child will qualify for a medical exemption. What will you do if my child begins to feel bullied or singled out for being unvaccinated?
We urge all students to refrain from “shaming” or asking other students or employees if they have been vaccinated. Such behavior is not acceptable. The School will do everything we can to protect each individual’s privacy and to prevent bullying of any kind. Please reach out to your principal if you suspect your child is being bullied or made uncomfortable.
I don’t really interact with students on a daily basis. Do I still need to be fully vaccinated?
Yes. In order to eliminate the risk of community spread on campus, the School is requiring all employees (full and part-time) to receive the vaccine.
Will on-site contractors who are regularly on campus and employed by other companies be required to be fully vaccinated?
Yes. Because community spread is a risk for all, we will also require on-site contractors who regularly come on campus (e.g. food service, cleaning, HVAC) to be fully vaccinated. If you have questions, please contact the Assistant Head of School for Finance and Operations.
What if I need an exemption? What should I do?
Employees requesting an exemption due to health or religious reasons should contact Human Resources, who will advise them of the forms to be completed and information needed to seek an accommodation. Forms can be found at www.sidwell.edu/besidwell. Employees who are approved for exemption may be reassigned duties to limit exposure risks.
Will you allow remote work?
Employees who are responsible for teaching, coaching, student activities, and student life will not be allowed to work remotely. For some staff who have job responsibilities that are not directly tied to the student experience on a daily basis, limited remote work arrangements may be available with a signed agreement with your supervisor and Human Resources based on consideration of the School’s needs and the employee’s job performance.
What if I don’t want to be vaccinated at this time? What will happen?
The School has adopted this policy to ensure the health of the community and expects everyone to participate. COVID vaccination is a requirement for continued employment. Employees who do not wish to follow this policy should contact their supervisor and Human Resources as soon as possible.
How will school be different from the 2020/21 year?
We are currently working through plans for the fall and will communicate updates as soon as our plans have been approved by the DC Office of the State Superintendent of Education (OSSE). Changes in the number of COVID cases, local infectivity rates, and policy updates issued by the DC Department of Health may require that we adapt and make adjustments before the start of school in the fall. At this point, based on OSSE requirements, the following protocols will be in place:
- We will continue wearing masks on campus
- We will continue with some form of physical distancing
- We will continue with the Ruvna health screening every morning
- We will continue rigorous handwashing and hygienic practices
- We will continue food service with individualized containers
Will dropoff and pickup schedules change?
We will let you know when there is a final schedule closer to the start of school.
How will you serve lunch?
Lunch will be served in individually wrapped containers, and students will eat outdoors (weather permitting), or at their desks, with distancing protocols in place. A limited number of students will be able to eat lunch in the cafeteria. To indicate allergies, the student health form, the Vital Health Record, and DC Health Certificate or MSDE Health Inventory are still used to manage lunches for students with food allergies, so please make sure those are up to date and contact the Health Services Team with any allergy-related questions.
To what extent has Sidwell Friends updated the facilities, equipment, and protocols?
The School has made extensive updates to ensure the safety of our community. These changes include: adding Needlepoint Bipolar Ionization to our HVAC systems and air filters with HEPA and UV filtration to each classroom; designating single-lane and one-way traffic patterns in all hallways; and posting signage with safety reminders and instructions.
How do I find schedules and the most updated information?
Most updates will arrive directly via email, so be sure to keep an eye out for messages from your principal, teachers, and division, as well as Quaker Notes, the School’s central information source for parents, which is sent every Sunday morning. Other key resources are the Be Sidwell (formerly “Staying Safe 2020”) page, which includes information about the safety practices, information from the Medical Advisory Team (MAT), and links to the COVID testing dashboard and schedule; the Parent Portal; the Parent Calendar, which includes dates and Zoom links when available; and an archive of sent messages on QuakerZone in case you missed an email. To go to this archive of messages, click the “messages” button in QuakerZone:
To read past principals’ messages that have been archived in Quaker Notes:
Will you require COVID testing in the fall?
We will require unvaccinated and partially vaccinated students and employees to continue surveillance testing. The final schedule will be communicated before the start of the school year.
What are the quarantine rules if I or my student travels?
DC DOH Domestic Travel Quarantine and Testing Requirements: unvaccinated or partially vaccinated individuals who have traveled domestically to any place other than Maryland or Virginia must quarantine until tested for COVID-19 three to five days after returning AND receive a negative COVID-19 PCR test before returning to campus. Those who choose not to test must quarantine for 10 days. A reminder that to be considered fully vaccinated, students must have received both vaccination shots, and then 14 days need to have passed.
DC DOH International Travel Quarantine and Testing Requirements: unvaccinated or partially vaccinated individuals who travel internationally must quarantine for seven days after returning, get tested for COVID-19 three to five days after returning, AND receive a negative COVID-19 PCR test. Even if the test is negative, the seven-day quarantine is still required. Those who choose not to test must quarantine for 10 days.
Are parents allowed on campus?At this point, we continue to minimize the number of people visiting campus. As conditions allow, we plan to create opportunities for parents/guardians to attend in-person events on campus throughout the year, but will not allow casual visits to the School. We will communicate our plans for in-person family events and activities as they are developed.
What role does community transmission rates play in deciding whether or not in-person learning can take place?
There are several metrics that we evaluate carefully to determine whether or not it is safe to keep our campuses open for in-person learning, which is posted online on the Be Sidwell page. As recommended by the Medical Advisory Team (MAT), the School monitors and reviews School and area positivity rates daily. Should area positivity rates rise or should there be an outbreak of COVID-19 on campus, the School may resume surveillance testing. The School will seek guidance from the Medical Advisory Team to determine the threshold for keeping our campus open for in-person learning. In the event that DC DOH or MDH mandate campus closure or the School is instructed to suspend in-person learning by the Medical Advisory Team, we will shift into distance learning, using the protocols and routines established last year.
WilI I know when a community member has tested positive?
Any identified positive case will be posted (without any personal identifying information) on our Testing Dashboard and Information. The Director of Health Services also communicates information when positive cases are reported.
If a student has been exposed to someone who tests positive for COVID, what do we do?
See the PDF “How to Respond to Possible COVID Cases” that is posted on the BeSidwell page for guidance. This document outlines possible scenarios and some responses for them. It’s always a good idea to contact email@example.com if you are not sure what to do.
What is the cost of COVID-19 testing?
Students and employees who participate in School-sponsored testing are not charged with any fees. Health insurance information will be requested during the pre-registration process to seek insurance coverage and reimbursement for the cost of the test. Costs not covered by insurance will be paid for by the School, but only when tested by School-sponsored vendors. We ask that you adhere to the deadlines in order to be prepared for testing and to receive results on time. Costs associated with any testing conducted with a third-party provider outside of the School’s testing program are the responsibility of the families or employees. All test results must be submitted through Magnus Health via the Parent Portal.
When do I receive test results?
Test results are typically available within one to three days. The vendor will share results directly with families. The vendor will ask that community members sign consent forms for permission to disclose test results to the Health Services staff the first time; they will not require new consent forms upon subsequent testing. We ask everyone to submit test results that are conducted by a third party using Magnus Health via the Parent Portal. Health Services will keep this information confidential and store results in Magnus Health.
What does a positive test result mean?
Test results will be shared with you via email. Positive test results for COVID-19 indicate that the virus was detected and the individual is infected with the virus and presumed to be contagious. The infected individual is expected to isolate immediately and contact their healthcare provider for further guidance. Positive results, as required by law, will be shared with the Health Department; they will likely contact an individual with positive results to begin the contact tracing process. Please cooperate with the health officials.
How will we share our feedback about our student's academic experience?
Please continue to share via our surveys and talk to your child’s advisors, teachers, and principal. Your input is vital.
Can Parents Association volunteers organize in-person events for students, families, or adults?
For the 2021/22 school year, the PA will host some in-person events. Announcements of these events will be shared as they are developed.