Having begun the 2020-2021 academic year in a distance learning model, Sequoyah School is preparing for students’ eventual return to campus. The school’s COVID-19 Health and Safety working group, headed up by Brian Eagen, Director of Field Studies, is in charge of overseeing the health and safety planning that is needed to ensure an effective return to on-campus learning. The working group meets on a weekly basis to discuss plans for reopening campus. Eagen and David Cutler-Kreutz, K-12 Assistant Director of Field Studies, are designing and implementing a plan for the high school’s return to campus; they are also in charge of a self-isolation protocol for students and faculty/staff who are sick or test positive.
According to Eagen, the task force is “constantly reviewing public health agency guidance from Pasadena Public Health Department, LA Department of Public Health, California Department of Public Health, and the CDC,” whom they are in compliance with. Eagen said that these regulations are constantly changing due to the constantly shifting number of COVID cases in both California and the United States, and one of the many challenges that this task force has faced is keeping up with these regulation changes. When requirements or recommendations are unclear, Eagan says, the task force looks for guidance from two medical advisors, Neha Nanda, MD, Medical Director of Infection Prevention and Antimicrobial Stewardship at Keck Medicine of USC, and Sujal Mandavia, MD, Chief Medical Officer at Carbon Health.
According to Eagen, and depending on the rates of community disease transmission, Sequoyah hopes to reopen both of its campuses with a reduced capacity sometime this fall semester. The task force follows a chart from the California Department of Public Health that “lays out the measures that each county must meet, based on indicators that capture disease burden, testing, and health equity.” This is a mandate that Eagen and the rest of the COVID-19 task force is in compliance with.
When school returns, Eagen said, there will be daily health screenings, reduced campus capacity, physical distancing, lots of hand washing, wearing masks, as well as modified bathroom capacities. Returning to campus would imply that the community transmission rates have decreased and that the school has completed its health and safety planning and campus modifications.