Sidwell COVID-19 Protocols Change With BA.5 Variant

On Aug. 2, Health Services announced Sidwell’s updated COVID-19 protocols amid the onset of BA.5, an omicron subvariant.

One of the most significant changes is the elimination of masking requirements. Sidwell will follow health requirements and protocols issued by the D.C. and Maryland Departments of Health, as well as the Office of the School Superintendent of Education—none of which require the use of masks.

Sidwell has also eliminated COVID-19 testing along with distance learning options through Zoom. Students who test positive will be asked to quarantine and remain at home for a required five-day isolation period, according to an email from healthcare coordinators.

The change in Sidwell’s approach has sparked a range of reactions and mixed feelings among students.

Many have expressed excitement in light of  the new protocols.

Junior McKenzie Manley looks forward to an increased sense of normalcy.

Junior William Friedman believes the new protocols are reasonable, given the current state of the pandemic in the United States and in the D.C. area.

Friedman finds that he’s not stressed about the possibility of contracting the COVID-19 virus.

Some students have expressed concerns regarding the elimination of testing and masks.

Junior Sam Greenspan felt that the removal of testing requirements would make it harder to differentiate COVID-19 from other illnesses with similar symptoms, such as the common cold.

Junior Amelia Petty agreed, saying that without masks and testing, it will be far more difficult to know whether someone is infected, and will allow for easier transmission of the virus, especially in a large setting such as a classroom or the meeting room.

Overall, the Sidwell community expressed mixed reactions to the changes in protocols. While many are excited about for the lift in protocols and the return to normalcy, concerns have been expressed throughout the Sidwell community.