We interviewed Dr. Sands and asked her commonly discussed questions Marlborough students had surrounding the school’s COVID-19 policy.
Do you consult with any medical professionals when making decisions regarding COVID-19 safety?
Yes, I have a group of medical professionals, three doctors whom I speak to regularly. One is of adolescence, the other is a neurologist for adolescence, and the other is an internal medicine specialist. I talk to them regularly. On top of that, I have had the opportunity to speak to one of the ranking epidemiologists in the country. When making a big decision, I always call the doctors.
How are traditions, specifically senior traditions, affected by the pandemic? How are the school officials making decisions to maintain safety, while trying to preserve traditions?
You know, that’s a hard balance because last year, some schools didn’t have graduations on campus. We did, and we did it differently, but it was all outside, it [graduation] was really pretty, so we kept the tradition of graduation. The year before, we had a drive-by graduation with kids in cars. We have really kept all of our important traditions. Last year we had a ring ceremony, and we had a pin ceremony. It doesn’t have to be in Caswell to be meaningful.
What is the role of the senior leadership team?
I assigned them [the senior leadership team] to be heads of different task forces. For instance, Mr. Riddle headed up the facilities task force. At that point last year, we didn’t know everything, but he came up with possible solutions. We knew that we needed to get a high efficiency particulate air filter, and we got the highest quality we could get. We set up the tents because we learned that being outside reduced the risk of transmission. Everyone worked hard on the committee. We all were all going to webinars and reading. I read the Johns Hopkins daily reports for COVID-19. At first, all we knew was that it could be deadly, which was very scary, we didn’t have any vaccines, and we didn’t know much of anything. During that time, we would devise a program and then we would chuck it because it didn’t work. In that way, it was hugely frustrating.
How are decisions made at Marlborough influenced by other schools, such as Harvard-Westlake, Brentwood or Archer?
We talk all the time. The head of Harvard-Westlake wrote me and said “Hey, this is what we are doing, what are you doing?” I talk to the head of Brentwood all the time. He and I are friends outside of school and we talk to each other, but in the end we’re not all doing the same thing. If somebody says “well Harvard-Westlake”, they’re making the decisions based on their school. We have to make decisions based on ours. They’re very different decisions.
What is the status of class trips, such as the Hawaii trip for seniors?
The problem with trips is, we have to stop and think about this, when you have a trip going away, and somebody tests positive on the trip, what do we do? What if a chaperone tests positive, we can’t do that [test students] from far. These are the things that we’re thinking about.
How did you address the heavily politicized issue of making the vaccine mandatory for members of the community?
I feel very strongly. I think the fact is that anti-vaxers do a great disservice to us all. I really do. This isn’t really a right or left issue. In some ways, this is an issue of ignorance.