Request for Temporary Virtual School Option for TFS Students

First of all, I want to recognize all of the hard work that every member of the faculty and staff has put into ensuring that we have a safe and "normal" as possible school year. However, I'd like to bring up some concerns that I share with other Tandem Friends School students, as well as parents, about the current circumstances surrounding the Omicron variant and school.

Understanding that it is not possible nor desirable to revert fully to online school, and knowing that virtual schooling can be incredibly challenging for students and teachers alike, we would like to suggest that we have a temporary option for online school, which would ideally last until the end of January or early February, when the cases stop spiking. With the threat of Omicron it makes more sense to stay the safest that we can be now in order to prevent further spread of COVID, so that we may attend school more safely and have a lessened risk of becoming infected sooner rather than later.

Amongst a variety of reasons for going temporarily virtual, the most important to me is the safety of the students and faculty as well as the broader communities we are a part of. As of now, COVID cases are spiking (the 7 day average in Virginia is 18,625, and there are roughly 2,660 cases a day). January 23, 2022 is expected to have the highest spike of cases in Virginia. Going to school the past couple of weeks has been increasingly stressful knowing that the possibility of catching COVID is so much higher in the cold months and because of the new variant. Speaking from personal experience, my family has to be extra cautious because we have an at-risk person in the household. Having this extra worry in my head daily is challenging and I know other people have very similar situations to this.

In addition to these serious safety concerns, students have also experienced feelings of increased stress levels because of COVID protocols. Changes recently made such as the more distanced seating in class rooms and separated morning meetings and community times have made school feel more isolating. This has made it more challenging to actually feel purposeful throughout the school day.

For the students that do get COVID and have to do school from home, they aren't getting the proper education they need to thrive, for an entire two week period. Teachers do create individual plans for these students, but the feeling of not being able to attend classes, not just in terms of missing work but actually being absent from the lessons and interactions with students and teachers is an unfortunate occurrence that is happening to those who have to stay home.

Once again we all really appreciate your hard work in keeping us safe, and thanking you for hearing our concerns. 

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