Thaden School has been highly proactive in responding to the challenges of the COVID-19 pandemic. On this page, you will find resources that may be helpful in managing and mitigating the risks of COVID-19 and answers to frequently asked questions (FAQs).
Thaden School's point of contact for COVID-19 related questions or concerns is our School Nurse, Pam Chrisco. You may contact her by email or phone (479-245-4626).
The dashboard below provides up-to-date information about COVID-19 cases in the Thaden School community since the beginning of this academic year (August 16, 2021). It is updated Monday to Friday by 4:00 pm as information is reported and verified.
12/7/2021 3:01 pm CST
Active: The total number of positive cases currently within our community, new and existing.
New Today: Daily new positive cases within the Thaden School community.
Cumulative: The total number of cases reported and verified since August 16, 2021, active and non-active.
Current COVID Risk: Key Metrics
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)
We address below a number of Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ’s) about Thaden School’s response to the COVID-19 pandemic. We continue to monitor the state of the pandemic and update these FAQ’s as conditions change. Further questions can be directed to Kim Strickland, Director of Finance and Operations, or Pam Chrisco, School Nurse.
1. Does the school require students and employees to be vaccinated against COVID-19?
While the high rate of vaccination among our eligible students and employees provides our greatest protection against the Delta variant, we currently encourage, but do not require, eligible members of the school community to get vaccinated as soon as possible. However, for employees, we are currently reviewing the newly announced US Department of Labor standard for employers and will update these FAQ’s accordingly.
2. How does the school know which students and employees have been vaccinated?
3. Does the school require masks?
Yes. We require all employees, students, and visitors to wear properly fitted masks on campus when using indoor spaces. We also require that students wear masks while riding in school buses and vans. Of course, we recognize and respect that many will prefer to wear masks throughout the day, indoors and outdoors.
We recommend that students bring at least two fresh masks to school each day (as well as a plastic bag or container in which to store them). We encourage students to switch over to a fresh mask after lunch.
We hope the need for this indoor mask requirement will be short-lived, but for now it is an important part of our efforts to protect the health of our school community and the continuity of our educational programs while we assess the nature of the Delta variant and its impact on our home region. Conditions permitting, our campus will be mask optional for all students and employees upon return from the winter break on January 4.
4. In addition to requiring masks indoors, how will the school mitigate the risk of infection on campus?
Last year we upgraded our HVAC system and we continue to optimize it to increase the flow of outside air and reduce return air.
In addition, we offer two lunch services to reduce the number of students seated at any given table in the Great Hall. We have also furnished an outdoor space for dining. Students will continue to have the choice to dine outdoors even as the weather cools; please ensure they are dressed accordingly.
5. Is instruction on campus physically distanced?
No. We intend to resume our innovative teaching methods and programs after a long period of dormancy. A Thaden education is designed to be much more interactive and dynamic than has been possible under the fixed conditions of physically distanced classrooms and online platforms. We are excited to bring our seminars, laboratories, workshops, maker spaces, teaching kitchens and gardens, and many other instructional spaces back to life with the full variety of hands-on learning that our campus was created to support.
6. What does the school expect from families and students in terms of self-screening?
We rely on families to ensure that their children do not show COVID-19, cold, or flu-like symptoms prior to sending them to school. We will no longer conduct daily health screenings on campus, nor will a morning text reminder be sent to families.
7. What are your COVID-related policies and practices for athletics?
Student-athletes are expected to wear masks during indoor practices and games at AAO except when engaged in drills, conditioning, and other types of high-intensity activities. They must also wear masks while riding school transportation.
Members of the Thaden School community are also required to wear masks when attending indoor home games.
8. How will the school's policies and practices for COVID safety affect school trips and other co-curricular programs?
We have resumed all educational programs and co-curricular activities, including those that involve trips off campus (such as college trips for Grades 10 and 11). Students are required to wear masks when they are indoors, on and off campus.
9. How are meals served?
We offer a buffet-style service for breakfast and lunch with a limit of four students per table in the Great Hall and designated seating in outdoor covered areas with four to six students per table. We also offer two lunch services, one for each division, to create additional space between seats at each table. Students are expected to wear masks in the Great Hall when they are not dining (e.g., going through the buffet line or clearing their plates).
10. How will the school undertake contact tracing in the event of a positive case on campus?
Due to our overall vaccination rate of over 70% among students and employees, we are no longer required to place anyone in quarantine due to an on-campus exposure to COVID, regardless of the exposed individual’s COVID vaccination status. If, however, a student or employee is exposed to COVID at home, they will be required to quarantine per FAQ 11.
11. How long is the quarantine period?
Unvaccinated persons exposed to COVID outside of school must complete 7 full days of quarantine from the date of last contact with the positive case. Rapid antigen or PCR testing must be performed after completing 5 days of quarantine. If the test is negative and the close contact remains symptom-free, they will be allowed to return to school on day 8. If the close contact chooses to not be tested, they will be required to quarantine for 10 full days.
Fully vaccinated persons who have a known exposure to someone with a presumptive or confirmed case of COVID-19 should be tested 5-7 days after exposure, regardless of whether they have symptoms. They should also wear a mask in indoor public settings for 14 days or until they receive a negative test result.
12. If my student has been identified as a close contact outside of school, should I notify the school?
Yes. Please do so as soon as possible. That information enables us to identify promptly any persons who might be considered a close contact if your student develops COVID.
13. Will you offer online or blended learning for students in quarantine?
No. Quarantined or isolated students will continue their academic work from home on their own time, but we will support their learning through conferences with teachers via zoom and other methods. Allowing these students to participate virtually in live, campus-based classes (the “blended” model) is not feasible or effective given that our teaching methods are more fluid and interactive this year.
14. Under what circumstances will the school test students for COVID-19?
If a student develops symptoms during the school day, their parent(s) or guardian(s) will immediately be notified. No student will be tested without the verbal or written consent of their parent(s) or guardian(s).
With the proper consent, we will use a rapid antigen test on campus, which usually gives us results within 15 minutes. In addition, we can obtain a swab for PCR testing for processing at NWA Pathology Associates (NAPA) in Fayetteville, which usually gives us the results within 24 hours. There is no out-of-pocket expense to Thaden families or employees for either method of testing.
If the COVID exposure happens on campus, no one is obligated to test per the new ADH guidelines. That being said, testing 5-7 days post exposure for fully vaccinated individuals is the current CDC recommendation. People who are not fully vaccinated should get tested immediately when they find out they are a close contact. If their test result is negative, they should get tested again 5–7 days after their last exposure or immediately if symptoms develop.
No one is obligated to test unless they are opting for early return (day 8) from quarantine following a home exposure.
15. Will the school host additional vaccination clinics?
We will revisit this as vaccine recommendations evolve. COVID vaccines are widely available at a number of local pharmacies. The federal government is providing the vaccine free of charge to all people living in the United States, regardless of their immigration or health insurance status. Visit vaccines.gov to find providers near you. If you need help finding a location, please do not hesitate to contact Nurse Chrisco.
16. How will the school decide when it is appropriate to make further changes to its policies and practices?
The state of the pandemic in Northwest Arkansas and our understanding of the Delta variant continue to change rapidly. We will monitor the situation closely and modify our policies and practices accordingly. In making any such decisions, we will weigh a variety of quantitative and qualitative factors, including but not limited to the following:
- local infection levels
- local hospital capacity
- school quarantine levels
- school vaccination levels
- indications of contagion within the school community or specific groups (teams, grade levels, etc.)
- new scientific information regarding the nature of the Delta variant and its virulence
- weather conditions and availability of outdoor space
- guidance from the CDC, ADH, and other relevant authorities
- social-emotional wellness of students
Please note that these factors are not listed in order of importance and that all will be given full consideration as we strive to meet our primary objectives: protecting the health and safety of our school community while keeping our campus open for live instruction free of the disruptions caused by high levels of quarantining.
Decisions to modify our policies and practices will be made by the Head of School in close consultation with the administrative leadership team and the Board of Directors.