The official student newspaper of Lower Merion High School since 1929

The Merionite

The official student newspaper of Lower Merion High School since 1929

The Merionite

The official student newspaper of Lower Merion High School since 1929

The Merionite

Policies to protect

Learn more about how LMSD has taken action to combat the spread of COVID-19.
LM schools are continuing to enforce masking mandates in classrooms. | Photo by (Aiko Palaypayon ’23/Staff)

The LMSD community has done a lot in the past two years to ensure the safety of students and staff. This includes virtual and hybrid learning, shorter class periods, up and down designated staircases, and even separate lunch periods. But despite the district’s best efforts, positive COVID-19 cases continue to rise. While the case numbers are rising, so are the vaccination rates. Per CDC recommendations, everyone over the age of five should get vaccinated and those who are eligible should get their booster dose. Over the course of the past two months, COVID-19 cases within the district have hit an all time high. 

As of January 31, according to the LMSD COVID-19 Dashboard, the total number of reported cases is 1,440 (1,114 student cases and 326 staff cases). LM currently has the highest number of reported cases at 144, followed by BCMS at 111. Cynwyd Elementary School has the least number of cases at 33. From September 2021 to now, the number of reported cases in the district has increased by 3248.84 percent. 

The COVID-19 Dashboard also lists the vaccination rates for the district by grade level. As of December 20, 2021, the following vaccination rates for the district were reported: 85.5 percent of ninth graders, 84.73 percent of tenth graders, 85.1 percent of eleventh graders, and 86.5 percent of twelfth graders. At Welsh Valley Middle School and Bala Cynwyd Middle School, the combined average rate of vaccinated students is 70.3 percent. In all six LMSD elementary schools, 48.3 percent of students are vaccinated. 

According to the Health Services Letter written by Lead Supervisor of School Health and Student Safety Terry Quilan and posted on January 13, 2022, LMSD is continuing to enforce masking mandates in all buildings and school buses. The school district is not requiring vaccinations but is strongly recommending that all eligible people do so. Everyone is still asked to isolated at home if they are exhibiting symptoms. Quilan writes, “Anyone with a positive COVID-19 test or a probable positive case can return to school five days after symptoms begin, as long as they are no longer symptomatic and are fever-free for 24 hours.” Public Health isn’t requiring people to be tested before returning to work and after isolation periods.   

The district has introduced two testing programs called “Mask to Stay” and “Test to Stay.” The Mask to Stay program applies to situations where an individual had close contact with someone outside of their household who tested positive for COVID-19. So long as the individual is asymptomatic, they may continue to come to school in person, granted they complete daily symptom screenings, wear face masks, and com

plete COVID-19 tests four to six days after exposure. This program applies to both students and staff. In addition, individuals do not need to be vaccinated in order to qualify for this program. The Test to Stay program only applies to staff members. In accordance with this program, a staff member exposed to a member of their household who tested positive for COVID-19 can continue work in person as long as they are vaccinated, screened daily, and complete COVID-19 tests each day for ten days. They must comply with distance and masking requirements. 

As the number of cases continues to rapidly increase, the best thing to do is to follow the safety guidelines in place. In order to avoid another semester of virtual learning, please continue to wear masks properly, practice social distancing, and complete daily symptom screenings. With the higher vaccination rates and new testing programs, hopefully the year can end normally and in-person with everyone in the district continuing to learn safely.

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