For many people, this holiday season brings extra excitement. Being able to celebrate with family and friends that we haven’t seen in a long time due to COVID is so special. This year we may get to partake in holiday traditions again that may have been closed last year, or get to travel during the breaks to places that were not permitted last year. Whether you are doing any of these things over break, or maybe just staying at home to relax, this holiday season will hopefully feel joyful and familiar. Many people are viewing 2022 as a fresh start, trying to put aside the stress of the pandemic. Knowing that this new beginning is here and that the pandemic is not over, Northwest has put extra thought into COVID rules and protocols. Much of our student and faculty population will be traveling, so Northwest has new guidelines they are implementing to keep us safe. However, most things will stay the same.
Northwest is prepared for the holiday season and the COVID cases that may come from it. Our school has set a few new precautions for after winter break. To keep us safe, Northwest is testing the entire student population within the first two days of school after winter break. 6th-9th grade students are being tested on Monday the 3rd of January. 10th-12th graders will be tested on Tuesday.
A large group of students and faculty are traveling not only to other states, but are traveling to other countries as well, and the new COVID-19 variant has sparked some concern. While the Omicron variant was apparently first detected in Southern Africa, it has quickly spread to over 75 countries including the United States. The US has restricted travel from eight countries because of the Omicron variant. This is only a temporary solution so our government officials can figure out a way to keep the United States safe. Booster shots are now available for people 16 years and older, and soon will be available for everyone. Many people in our school are already getting their booster shots. Earlier this school year, people 12 and under were approved to get the Pfizer vaccine. This allows Northwest to loosen up protocols a bit because the 6th graders are eligible for the vaccine.
COVID cases are skyrocketing across the country and the world once again with the new variant. There are now cases of the Omicron variant in many US states, including Washington, even detected in King County. The case rate was up 51%, and a 77.3% increase in adolescent confirmed cases was shown in the first week of December, and is still going up since then. The symptoms from Omicron are much less severe than any other variants of COVID, but it is spreading more than twice as quickly as the Delta variant, which spreads faster than the original COVID strand.
The Northwest School is making sure to keep us safe during and after the holiday season so that we can take the time to celebrate and spend quality time with loved ones instead of stress about COVID. We hope that you are all able to wind down and enjoy your winter break!