This is a brief overview of the layers of protection that we are applying at Abrome for the 2022-23 academic year. Abrome has been able to remain COVID free for the past three years of pandemic schooling.

The success we have had in protecting each other and local communities from the spread of COVID is something we are very proud of. We were only able to do that thanks to a collective commitment to community care, transparency, and candid and honest communication.

Community care means centering the needs of those who would be most impacted by our decisions and actions, and leveraging our privilege to support them. We must acknowledge three realities about the COVID pandemic (and likely Mpox, too):

1. COVID continues to fall heaviest on BIPOC communities, the immunocompromised, those without access to quality healthcare, essential workers, the unvaccinated, etc. All of our pandemic decisions must center those most impacted. Nothing we do impacts only those at Abrome.

2. All Facilitators and Learners go home to families, friends, and into other communities each day. If we were to spread COVID at Abrome, we’d spread it elsewhere, too.

3. There is no such thing as a harmless single case of COVID. Including cases that are “mild.” Each case has the potential to lead to long-term chronic health problems and disrupt quality of life, seed a superspreader event, and host a mutation that can become a new variant.

To limit the likelihood of infection and spread, we will use a multilayered approach to not bringing COVID into our education community, and not spreading COVID if it does find its way into the community. Please see our pandemic plan for greater detail.

Masking: Everyone will wear KF94s, KN95s, or N95s (or higher filtration masks or respirators) whenever we are indoors, and any time we are close to one another outdoors above the lowest risk level. All snacks and meals must be eaten outdoors.

Physical distancing: As cases rise we will reduce reduce density, cohort, and meet outdoors. Quarantine and isolation lasts 7 and 10 days, respectively, including a test out requirement. Abromies will receive remote support, and Facilitators receive paid sick time off.

Air quality: We will aggressively ventilate the space and monitor ventilation with CO2 monitors (800ppm max). Each room is also equipped with at least one HEPA purifier or Corsi-Rosenthal box, producing in excess of 12 air changes per hour (ACH) in filtration based on air volume.

Testing: Each morning every Learner and Facilitator completes a quick screening questionnaire before, each family submits a pooled household sample for LAMP surveillance testing, and we follow up with diagnostic testing based on results or stated concerns of exposure.

Vaccines: This year we also have a vaccination mandate except in very rare cases of medical necessity. Our definition of fully vaccinated includes being up-to-date on boosters.

Risk levels: We will use our updated COVID risk level system to determine when, where, and how we will gather. The five risk levels have cutoffs based on the average new cases per 100,000 and the test positivity rate, locally.

Gathering guidelines: Risk determines where we gather, how big our cells can be, whether we must mask (always indoors), when we will conduct LAMP testing (whenever in-person), and how close we can be from each other to include when eating (always outdoors).

Some say that we need kids back in schools even without sufficient measures to protect them from COVID infection because of learning loss, socialization, or other racist and classist assumptions. We believe such claims are not only false, they are ethically and morally repugnant.

Here is the Abrome pandemic plan for the coming academic year. Cannot wait to see you all on September 6th.