With the recent Omicron variant surging all across the United States, many schools had to implement new COVID safety protocols to help stop the spread. Concord Academy is no different. Even though it seemed at one point that some fall protocols may be on the verge of being lifted, the new Omicron cases have prompted CA to put new guidelines in place to protect the community. 

The biggest policy that CA is adapting revolves around testing. Now, every Monday, students will need to complete a BinaxNow rapid antigen test before coming to school. These tests are provided by CA regularly until the beginning of March break. In addition, PCR testing, carried out in the Student Health and Athletic Center’s basement classroom, is required for students and faculty every Thursday. About a day after, the results are sent out via email to the school. Testing twice a week lowers the chance that a community member comes on campus without knowing that they have COVID. Given the increasing amount of COVID-19 cases, frequent testing is the best way to prevent an outbreak.

Besides testing, masks also serve to keep everyone safe. Even though it may have seemed like masks were becoming optional indoors for the start of the second semester, plans were forced to change rapidly, and the mask mandate remains in place for the time being. Masking indoors at all times, except when actively eating, lowers the chance of a spread occurring. Of course, we hope to get back to a day where masks will not be necessary, but until Omicron cases drop, masks will remain a crucial part of our fight against COVID. 

Finally, additional spaces have been made available to seat people for lunch. The tent on the StuFac patio is a good option, although a bit chilly on colder days. The upper StuFac classroom is also an option, along with classrooms B30 and B42. In addition, Martha Kennedy has been kind enough to allow eating in the lower library room during crowded eating hours. So, there are plenty of rooms one can go to to avoid over-populating the StuFac. 

Certainly, these new COVID protocols are not ideal, but they are necessary to keep CA open in person and to keep the community healthy. For now, this is simply what we have to do. Hopefully, the day is near where COVID protocols are a thing of the past.