Director's Dispatch: Covid Update



The situation continues to become more complicated. It has been a difficult week as I try to balance what is the best for our students and staff. We have had a number of staff and students test positive since the start of the new school year. To give everyone a better picture of the current situation, I want to share some data with you.



Since the start of school in January about 2% of students have tested positive. Today, we had 313 students absent which is equal to 44% of our students. At the start of last week, students were absent because they tested positive, family members tested positive, their parents were concerned about Covid, or the family had not returned to Dakar. This week, the number of students who were absent declined, but over 200 students were in quarantine due to someone in their cohort testing positive.



Since Wednesday, we have needed to quarantine 2 or 3 cohorts a day.



Moving to Online Learning

The senior leadership team has developed a set of conditions that would lead us to consider moving to online learning for a period of time. We agreed that the conditions would be different for secondary school and elementary school.

For secondary school, we would move to online learning under one or more of the following conditions.

  • 20% of the secondary school staff was absent due to Covid

  • Teachers were required to cover classes for another teacher on an ongoing basis

  • A significant number of cohorts were quarantined

  • Evidence of transmission on campus based on multiple positive tests in the same cohort which cannot be attributed to other causes

For elementary school, we would move to online learning under one or more of the following conditions.

  • 30%+ of the elementary school staff was absent due to Covid. This is a higher percentage due to the fact that the elementary classrooms have teacher assistants who can continue to provide instruction

  • Teacher assistants were required to cover classes for classrooms teacher on an ongoing basis

  • Evidence of transmission on campus based on multiple positive tests in the same cohort which cannot be attributed to other causes

We will make separate decisions for elementary and secondary schools based on their own criteria.

In the past few weeks, we have not had any reported positive cases among the support staff.


As a reminder, the decision to have school on campus was based on three things.

  1. The vast majority of students learn better in person than online.

  2. The student’s mental health is better when they are on-campus and we can better support them when they are here.

  3. The students are generally safer on campus than at home. If the students basically stayed at home and did not interact with others, they would be safer. However, past experience has taught us that students who are quarantined generally do not stay away from others. With past variants, research has shown that schools are not super spreader events even in areas of high transmission. With the new variant, this may be different.

The decision to move online or not is a difficult one. Whichever way we go moving forward, please know it was a decision taken after considering all of the data and much reflection.

We will continue to monitor the situation on a daily basis and if the situation warrants, we will move to online learning as needed.