The COVID-Reopening Policy At A Beautiful Little K-8 School in Pennsylvania: Responsible, Respectful, Safe and Ethical.

If only all American institutions would behave like an amazing little K-8 school in Pennsylvania is acting— we’d beat back this terrible pandemic, rationally without compromising our individualist values. AND we’d sow the seeds of reason and friendship in our vastly diverse and divided nation. America can be about reasonable people acting reasonably and in friendship.

Trust and ethical conduct by administrators and government rest at the core of civil compliance by a plural democracy like ours. A little K-8 school in Pennsylvania is suddenly setting an example of ethical and reasonable conduct for our entire nation to follow in fighting the COVID-19 pandemic.

My younger kids are lucky to be going to a delightfully bright little K-8 school in Pennsylvania. The past year and a half were challenging for our school as they were for every school in America.

As the start of school approaches, every school in America is again grappling with the challenge of the Delta Variant — and the looming possibility of new challenges and possible closures. We aren’t exactly where we’d hoped we’d be.

But, earlier today our school’s administration sent out its COVID-reopening policy to all parents and guardians.

And, to me, this policy was a ray of sunshine and hope in America.

I want to share the immunity and mask “mandate” part of our school’s COVID-reopening policy with folks who read my writings, because I feel very strongly about it. I am proud of our school’s leadership for seeing reason, science and empathy and choosing to execute, what I know is one of the most reasonable and nuanced school COVID-reopening policies in America.

If only every institution in America had enough foresight to adopt this policy on COVID-19 immunity and masking, we would not only get through the pandemic safely and ethically — we would also cultivate trust and friendship across the our pluralistic nation, so divided today.

Here is our little school’s masking and immunity “mandate” published today:

COVID-19 Testing to begin the school year:

ALL students, faculty, and staff will be required to get a COVID test administered not before XXXXday. A rapid test is acceptable. To attend school on XXXXday, a scan or photograph of the negative test result must be sent to “XXXX.edu” by noon on XXXXXday. There is abundant free testing in the local area. Please consult your pediatrician if you need assistance securing a COVID test. Students who have not submitted a negative COVID test result will not be permitted to attend school until we have received a negative COVID test result. If you receive a positive test result, please email Joan Smith at du.

Proof of Immunity required for our older students:

ALL students who are 12 years or older by August 1 will be required to produce “proof of immunity” by October 1 to the school nurse, Jane Johnson, at du. This may be achieved by one of the following:

Sending us a scan or photo of the student’s vaccination card.

Sending us proof (positive COVID test, or Dr’s note) that the student had COVID-19 within the past 6 months. The student will need to be fully recovered by the start of school.

Sending us the results from an IgG (measures the amount of antibodies in someone) test showing the appropriate amount of antibodies. The test should be done at Labcorp or Quest. Your pediatrician can provide additional information about this test.

Exemptions or exceptions to the above:

Exemption: Medical or religious. For a medical exemption, a Dr’s note must accompany the exemption application. If you wish to apply for either a medical or religious exemption, please contact Jane Johnson at du to be sent a form.

Exception: If the parents of a 12-year old or older student choose not to provide “proof of immunity” to the school, and we are below 90% immunity in this population, they may be required to provide a negative COVID test result, sent to Jane Johnson at du from a test administered not more than 48 hours prior, to the school every Monday morning by 8 a.m. in order to attend school that week.

Parents and visitors:

ALL parents and visitors who are scheduled to be inside the school building for meetings will be required to produce “proof of immunity” as stated in 1 and 2 above.

All testing and immunity information will be kept fully confidential.

Masking Policy to begin the school year:

ALL students, faculty, and staff will be required to wear masks at all times, except for lunch and designated mask breaks, while inside the school building and on the school bus. Masking will not be required while outside at lunch, recess, athletics, or during an outdoor class. With this masking requirement, we are choosing to follow the current guidance from the Centers for Disease Control, the American Academy of Pediatrics, and as of Tuesday, August 17, the Heaven County Health Department, regarding indoor masking.

This simple but nuanced policy is the one EVERY American institution ought to adopt, because it is focused on achieving IMMUNITY….Not just forcing vaccinations “come hell or high water”, and irrespective of individual persons’ unique circumstances and history.

Trust and reason are at the root of compliance in civil society — and when every American can trust administrators’ and governments’ intent and actions, they comply with laws and mandates. But, when trust is lost and authoritarian nonsense is imposed on the population, free peoples do not comply — as they should not comply!

I believe that if every American institution were to follow the policies “mandated” by a little K-8 school in Pennsylvania, we would recover fast — and friendship and unity amongst our plural society would come into clear view…at last!

To good days ahead and in defense of US public health,

Hooman Noorchashm MD, PhD

noorchashm@gmail.com.

Hooman Noorchashm MD, PhD is a physician-scientist. He is an advocate for ethics, patient safety and women’s health. He and his 6 children live in Pennsylvania.