Count North Shore Country Day School as the latest local school to initiate mandatory COVID-19 testing.
Following the lead of New Trier High School and Glencoe District 35, the Winnetka private school will begin required testing for students and staff members before school resumes on Tuesday, Jan. 19, according to a press release from the school.
The release says the school will utilize the saliva-based test from Safeguard Surveillance, the same firm used by New Trier, on a weekly basis. Safeguard’s test is nondiagnostic and must be followed by a medical test, according to The Record’s previous reporting.
“We believe strongly that this test … will combine with our already proven campus mitigation strategies to make our campus even safer when we return,” Head of School Tom Flemma wrote in a letter to NSCD parents. “Perhaps most importantly, adding this additional, significant layer of protection to our safety arsenal makes us cautiously optimistic that we will be able to provide in-person learning for the bulk of the remaining school year.”
Thanks to a relatively small enrollment (525 students), North Shore Country Day engaged in a hybrid learning model — half in-person, half remote — through Thanksgiving. At that time, the school pivoted to all-remote learning through the holidays because of an anticipated spike in COVID-19 numbers.
The school reported that from August to November “there was no evidence of in-school transmission of the virus.” As of Wednesday, Jan. 13, five North Shore Country Day students (3 in the lower school, 2 in the middle school) have COVID-19.
Before the holidays, school officials surveyed its community to gauge holiday travel, asking any family to return by Jan. 4 and to quarantine for two weeks prior to in-school learning resuming.
“We could not be more proud of the work that our faculty and staff have done for three months to make in-person learning possible and successful,” Flemma said in the email. “We are also incredibly thankful for the efforts of students and families to follow our policies and keep our community safe.”
According to the school, NSCD parents must file a consent form no later than Thursday, Jan. 14. Also on that day, testing participants can pick up a test kit with four weeks worth of testing supplies. Completed tests must be returned on Sunday, Jan. 17. Parents will be notified if their student or student cannot return to campus that Tuesday, Jan. 19.
“When combined with our existing mitigation strategies, we believe we have a powerful set of tools to keep our community safe while learning in person, on campus,” the school said in a statement on its website. “Over time, it might help us extend the school day even longer.”