COVID-19 Updates for Winter Term II

Michelle Liu '23, Contributor

In her February 5 Weekly Update, Head of School Dr. Sheila Culbert announced that since reopening in-person learning for Winter Term II, there has been one positive COVID-19 test out of about 400 tests taken in the first round of testing for the term. As the campus opened in the ongoing pandemic, Loomis Chaffee has continued to follow established COVID-19 protocols to ensure the safety of its students, faculty, and staff.

“Our approach to our COVID-19 policies is based on best practices and the state of the virus. We monitor the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention website, state of Connecticut portal, and other resources to see what steps we need to take to keep the community healthy,” Ms. Mary Liscinsky, COVID-19 Coordinator, said.

Since the state of the pandemic is constantly changing, Loomis must make fluid decisions as the year progresses.

“There are meetings nearly every day about COVID-19, and we monitor the results of campus testing each week,” Ms. Liscinsky said.

This term, dormitories have implemented new protocols that both students and teachers must adjust to. For one, all boarding students went through an initial quarantine period upon returning to campus and all in-person students, faculty, and staff were—and continue to be—tested with the Mirimus pooled saliva testing.
“There was definitely a lot more planning that went into the beginning of each marking period because of COVID-19 but ultimately, my job is still the same with just a little more focus on trying to keep everyone following COVID-19 guidelines,” Ms. Liz Bucceri, Dorm Head of Palmer, said.
“The core of my responsibilities really hasn’t changed. My role as a dorm head is to maintain a happy, safe, and healthy environment for the girls in Palmer to live in for the year,” Ms. Bucceri said.
In terms of staying connected even when social distancing, Ms. Bucceri has made sure that personal connection is one of the dorm’s focal points this term.
“RAs have done a good job of doing pod-related hangouts. They get everyone out in the hall and just hang out making sure to stay masked and safely distanced away. The quarantine certainly bonded the pods and I think that has allowed for more of a connection since the quarantine was lifted” said Ms. Bucceri.
Recently, one-third of students living in Palmer quarantined off-campus. Ms. Liscinsky explained the process for those who need to quarantine off-campus.
“If someone tests positive, they will need to be in isolation, off-campus. We then work with that person to determine who their close contacts are, and once that is determined, close contacts are required to quarantine off-campus. Five members of the community are trained as contact tracers and we work closely with the Town of Windsor Department of Public Health,” Ms. Liscinsky said.
Loomis has continued to readjust its policies this year in an effort to ensure that the school runs smoothly in the midst of the pandemic. One of these adjustments has been Loomis’ future implementation of a newly created, Bluetooth-based dongle from the Yale School of Public Health. The dongle project will begin in Spring Term 1 and will help make contact tracing more efficient and accurate.
“Yale’s new contact tracing technology will not replace current practices; rather, we hope it will prove to make those practices more accurate and help us ensure that the people who need to be in quarantine are indeed in quarantine and those who don’t need to be in quarantine are not. We hope all students, faculty, and staff will participate in the pilot project starting next term,” Ms. Liscinsky said.
Ultimately, despite the challenges that COVID-19 has posed to the Loomis community, the school has worked hard to adapt to campus living so that students and faculty are remaining safe while still experiencing Loomis to the fullest extent possible.