Letter from Robert W. Hill on Masking and Reentry

Dear Williston Families,

The start of the second trimester is always exciting, as we gear up for new classes, new seasons, and holiday tournaments before scattering again for the longer winter holiday. I hope you are all as excited as I am to be back together. With the continued good health of the community as our highest priority, I write with the following update.

We have done a remarkable job of living with the pandemic as a community, and one of the pillars of that success has been to follow the science. Our vaccinated community is at 98.7 percent, with most adults having received their booster doses. It bears repeating, that even when there are breakthrough infections of COVID-19, vaccinated individuals, and especially younger people are highly protected against major sickness.

However, while we had planned to be mask optional after the break, because of the rising cases of infection in our area, and in particular, amid the the yet-to-be determined nature of the Omicron variant of COVID-19, I am reinstating our mandatory mask policy in classrooms and the dining commons (when not eating) and asking our entire community to adhere to the same precautions that have worked thus far.

As always, we also ask all members of our community to adhere to the rules of our Williston Community Compact, and to follow these expectations:

• Anyone feeling cold symptoms or loss of taste/smell should report immediately to the Health and Wellness Center, or refrain from coming to school.
• Students who have tested positive for COVID-19 during break should notify Health and Wellness, follow CDC guidelines, and isolate for 10 days prior to returning to campus.
• Students who become ill while traveling back to Williston should go directly to the Health & Wellness upon arrival for testing.
• Students who are unvaccinated will continue to be tested twice a week and must wear a mask in any indoor setting.
• As we prepare for the flu and cold season, we ask that students bring multiple washable cloth masks back to school. We will continue to have disposable masks available if needed.

One of the trademarks of being a member of the Williston community is respect for self and others—an awareness that what any individual does or says impacts others. Continuing to mask indoors in group settings is a small step to take while we wait for the scientists and doctors to tell us more about the impact of the Omicron variant on our current level of immunity.

I was hoping to see smiles in classrooms in 2021, but let’s hope that we can do so for the New Year. Thank you for being understanding and for continuing to be Williston strong, together.

Robert W. Hill III
Head of School