October 14, 2020
Dear McGillis Families,
As COVID-19 cases across Utah and Salt Lake County have reached a record-breaking high, the School made the decision last week to transition our limited in-person community events to virtual-only events. On the heels of our decision, Governor Herbert announced yesterday the State’s new COVID-19 Transmission Index places Salt Lake County in the “high transmission level” effective immediately. Under this system, “casual social gatherings” are restricted to 10 or fewer people.
Now more than ever, we understand that socializing as a community is an important and desired aspect of our lives -- it’s something we’re all craving. However, it’s more important that we keep the School’s doors open and our students learning on-campus for as long as possible. And with Utah reported as having one of the worst outbreaks in the country and 268 schools across the state having reported cases, we will continue to host all of our community events virtually until further notice in an effort to further mitigate risk of COVID-19 at McGillis.
Keeping our students at school will require action from our entire community
Science tells us the more people we interact with, and the longer that interaction, the higher the risk of COVID-19 spread. Similar to our school protocols, we’re asking our community to consider limiting social gatherings. We recognize socializing and interacting with friends and classmates can be a healthy way to cope with stress and connect with others. However, the recent surge in cases locally has been tied to casual social gatherings and the key to slowing the spread of COVID-19 is to wear masks and limit close contact with others as much as possible. Please consider the purpose and safety measures before engaging in social gatherings.
We understand our community’s personal needs and situations vary. And while the lowest risk is no in-person social gatherings, if families decide to engage in in-person playdates, playing sports, celebrations, and gatherings, please follow CDC’s recommendations to protect children from getting and spreading COVID-19, including wearing a mask, washing hands, avoiding close contact, and cleaning and disinfecting. In order to lower risk, it’s also important to implement the basic protocols of socializing in-person including:
- Participate in outdoor activities
- Wear masks at all times regardless of ability to social distance
- Maintain 6’ distance from one another
- Stay home when sick
- Keep the group small
Halloween is around the corner
Along with everything else, Halloween will look very different this year. Though the CDC has listed trick-or-treating as a higher-risk activity (along with trunk-or-treats, crowded indoor costume parties, and haunted houses), there are a variety of Halloween traditions it has listed as “lower risk.” Please consider the potential impact to the health of the school community when determining how your family will celebrate the holiday this year.
To help our students find joy during this “new normal”, the School is creating ways to celebrate the holiday at school, keeping safety our top priority. Historically, we have not celebrated Halloween at school, however, we feel the need to make an exception during these times. In addition, the McGillis Parent Association is curating a list of activities in which families may consider as alternate options to traditional trick-or-treating. Please look for details in the coming days.
Our community is capable
We are in the midst of a pandemic, and we should expect things to be hard. We know the strength and determination of our kehilah and our collective desire to keep our students on campus and learning for as long as possible, while also keeping health and safety our top priority.
The actions and sacrifices we make today directly impact the health of our school community and whether we’re able to continue to offer on-campus learning tomorrow.
We’re all eager to return to normal and when we come out of this, we’ll be prepared to reunite in-person and celebrate!
Together we can,
The McGillis School COVID-19 Task Force
Annette Accarrino, Director of Marketing & Communications
Jim Brewer, Head of School
Jen Merino, Health Specialist
Michael VanTyne, Director of Operations & Technology
Matt Haber, McGillis Board President & McGillis Parent
Adam Hersh, MD & McGillis Parent
Mary-Beth Scholand, MD & McGillis Board of Trustees, & McGillis Parent
Emily Spivak, MD & McGillis Parent