Covid Protocols & Transparency

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Lauren Coupland

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Jan 11, 2022, 5:07:46 PM1/11/22
to public....@laschools.net, Jennifer Guy, Ellen Ben-Naim, Christine Bernstien, Melanie Colgan, e.g...@laschools.net, Frostad, Gregory, PED
Ms. Guy and School Board Members

I know that things are currently chaotic with the current explosion of cases in Los Alamos County. There is a large amount of anxiety and speculation.  I will try to keep this brief.  From my personal interactions and conversations with other parents, staff, and community members, there are three areas of confusion and need.  These areas are: What is allowed by PED? Transparency and reliable information, and common sense protocols.  

What is Allowed by the NM PED?
I have spoken frequently with Mr. Frostad, the director of Safe and Healthy Schools at PED.  I will be CCing him on this email so that he can verify these items.  This is a summary of the information that I have received from him:
  • "Schools have developed enhanced COVID-safe practices plans to implement should case counts increase in the school or community. The PED has encouraged all schools to implement those plans now (and for the next few weeks or month) to reduce school transmission of COVID-19." - email on 1/9/22 (emphasis mine)
  • PED only approves enhanced mitigation plans for minimum compliance.  Districts are free to revise to increase safety measures without waiting for PED approval. - Phone call on 1/11/22
    • Specific example discussed "LAPS could decide to require vaccinated staff/students with covid+ household members to quarantine."
Transparency and Reliable Information
I applaud Ms Guy on her attempts to keep the public informed on cases, closure metrics, etc. However, it is clear that the public wants more information, which they are currently getting by word of mouth, rumor, etc. This becomes frustrating for everyone involved.  Given that, this is the information that many would like publicly available - 
  • Case Counts 
    • grade level information
    • On campus or not (rather than just on campus)
    • Extracurriculars they attended, even if it was during a weekend or school break. 
  • Closure Metrics
    • Clear information of what counts for this metric.
    • Clear 14 day totals
    • Current percentages
  • Attendance
    • Attendance percentage per school for students & Staff
    • Percentage of students out with symptoms or pending covid test - This can be an early warning sign for spread.
    • Number of students participating in Test-to-Stay
I know that this seems like a lot of information.  Butin a vacuum, we get more rumors and anxiety.  Many of this information could be updated simply with automated spreadsheets and formulas.  This town has a variety of experts who could help streamline this process.  

Common Sense Protocols
The current Covid Toolkit was updated on November 2nd, weeks before Omicron was first reported.  While the recommendations and safety protocols show the best wisdom of the time, Covid has adapted, and our protocols must adjust to match. Omicron is more infectious and has greater vaccine escape for those who are eligible for a booster, but not received one.  
  • DOH Guidance on Quarantine for Vaccinated, non-boosted individuals
    • DOH has updated their guidance for vaccinated, booster eligible individuals who have not yet received a third shot.  This Guidance should apply to all staff and students in this category.  The state says that they should quarantine for at least 5 days. 

  • Omicron Specific Safety Measures 
    • LAPS should immediately require all staff and students with a Covid+ household member to quarantine regardless of vaccination status.  The viral load of living in the same household is much higher than in a school exposure, and should be treated differently.  
    • Lunch should be only with cohort groups, or outdoors.  
    • Any other safety measures recommended by experts in virology and epidemiology.  
    • Provide N95 or similar masks to all staff.  
    • Require all masks to be worn properly (covering nose and mouth) and be at least 3-layer. 
These measures cannot wait if we want schools to remain open.  Please give our schools the best chance by making these changes right away.  
Thank you, 
Lauren Coupland
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