An Uptick in COVID-19 Cases: The Ramaz Response

An Uptick in COVID-19 Cases: The Ramaz Response

Winter Break is supposed to be a calming time for students and faculty members at Ramaz. A week and a half hiatus involving airplanes and rest before we all start hunkering down for finals. Unfortunately, the three days before this break started, the administration made the decision to close down and have us learn on Zoom. Throughout those three days, many students from every grade were getting infected. 

December 22nd, 2021, Nurse Moskowitz sent an email to students and their families, informing them of the intensification in the COVID-19 situation. “We want to inform you that there has been a surge in the number of positive cases of COVID-19 reported in the Upper School. This is consistent with the rapid spread of COVID-19 in the wider community. Eight positive cases have been reported so far since this weekend, to cases in each of the grades.” This made Winter Break a rather agitating time in terms of getting sick. 

While Winter Break was a well-deserved vacation from school-related stress, students knew that coming back to school would be an anxiety-inducing situation, due to upcoming finals and the much stricter safety rules. 

Prior to the break, the CDC approved the booster vaccine for ages 16-17. This meant that all seniors, most juniors, and a handful of sophomores were eligible for their booster shot. A clinic was offered for those eligible students. Over break, the students that could get boosted got their shot, helping them fight COVID-19. This was a check on the to-do list of the Ramaz Administration- have the Upper School students get boosted. At this point, the staff and many students were boosted, giving a point to Ramaz in the Ramaz versus COVID battle. This now left out a handful of juniors, most sophomores, and all freshmen. Thankfully, the CDC approved the next booster for ages 12-15, meaning that by the end of January, all Upper School students could be boosted. 

The first post-break step was a smart one: Have all students and staff members get tested. Therefore, you would know prior to your return whether or not to quarantine. Getting tested before returning to school was pikuach nefesh. Doing so would save others from getting sick if one did test positive. And while the school did offer on-site testing upon arrival, the former was the best and safest option. The on-site testing was the last resort. Though many families took advantage of the testing on Monday morning, lines were down 85th and 78th street all day on Sunday. 

The next step was enforcing masks even more so than before. There are now more constant mask reminders and precautions in the elevator. Though the first week back was cut short due to the snow day, the four days we had in school were overwhelmed by mask reminders and safety precautions that students were hesitant to follow earlier in the year. However, students are still not following the updated COVID-19 protocols. 

Throughout the first we back, the school was saddened by many new positive cases. Mid-week, Mr. Cannon sent an email to the entire school, updating us on new protocols. He touched on quarantining in terms of test results and vaccination status, exposure, testing, and masks. “We cannot overemphasize the importance of keeping masks on at all times, with the exception of eating. Any student who continues to be non-compliant will be asked to go home.” 

The end is in sight, everyone. 

A family physician, Jaime Loeher, said to the Wall Street Journal in an interview: “I see this as a surge that is greater than other surges. I see the number of cases as tremendously higher and just by the volume of cases, I would see a large number of people in the hospital. That is what is concerning me. Let’s whack this one down.”

Through compliance with the school’s new COVID-19 guidelines, there is a future for the school without any masks, Zoom, and social distancing.