The Argo Asks: COVID-19 FAQ


BLS students protect our school community by participating in pool testing. (Source: Mary Bosch (II))

The recent surge of the Omicron variant has raised a great deal of concern in the Boston Latin School community. The school has been taking precautions and has implemented new measures to ensure the safety of families, but many members of the BLS community may have lingering questions regarding absences, procedures, pool testing and more. Please note that the information mentioned in this article is subject to change after January 2022, depending on further BLS, Department of Elementary and Secondary Education and Centers for Disease Control and Prevention safety guidelines.

Q: How do I report a positive case? 

A: If a student is positive, they should email both of the school nurses, Ms. Sally Almeida ([email protected]) and Ms. Kimberly Brogan-Healy ([email protected]). Students should also fill out the Absence Request form, which allows for make-up privileges, found at

Q: What is considered a close contact?

A: According to the Department of Elementary and Secondary Education (DESE), a “close contact” is defined as being unmasked and within six feet or closer of a confirmed positive case for 15 minutes or longer. If you are established as a close contact, the school will notify you.

Q: How long should I quarantine for?

A: A student positive for COVID-19 should quarantine for ten days, regardless of whether symptoms arise or not. The day an individual tests positive is considered day zero and the following day is day one of the quarantine. Students may return after day ten (that is, on day 11 or after, if day 11 occurs on a weekend), only if symptoms are no longer present.

Q: If I have symptoms, can I go to school?

A: No. During these uncertain times, no student or staff member should come to school with COVID-19 symptoms, mild or not. To ease students’ concerns about falling behind when staying home, the administration has implemented a range of policies, including discouraging graded assessments for the remainder of Term 2 and posting classwork on Google Classroom, so absent students may more easily keep up.

Q: What mask should I wear in school?

A: All types of face-coverings, except neck gaiters, are permitted in school. The administration as well as the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), however, suggest three-ply surgical masks (think of the disposable light-blue masks already most common). Cloth masks do not provide sufficient protection against the Omicron variant. If you need a surgical mask, they are available in the main office or the nurse’s office. Wear your mask above your nose!

Q: Is there a possibility that BLS could shut down?

A: The district has the right to recommend closure in partnership with the Boston Public Health Commission and the state if they feel that there is a public health emergency in the building. Despite significant individual case numbers, positivity rates at BLS are significantly below the city average; therefore, it is not likely at this moment that BLS will shut down.

Q: Why should I participate in pool testing?

A: Many positive cases remain asymptomatic for the duration of infection, and thus require pool testing to be identified and contained. Participating in pool testing is a vital way of doing this and giving the school and our community more reliable numbers about COVID-19 spread at BLS that can in turn inform our assessment of risk and safety at school. Many students are not currently participating in pool testing, so we encourage them to take this essential step to help stop the spread! Students who have contracted COVID in the last 90 days should not participate in pool testing.

Q: What do I do if the results of my pool are positive?

A: Faculty will pull you out of class to retest and see if you were the positive case in the pool. It will be a rapid test.

Q: How has BLS kept students up to date on classes?

A: The school has directed teachers to post assignments on Google Classroom. Students who are healthy enough to continue doing assignments at home are highly encouraged to do so. If a teacher has not posted assignments or class updates on Google Classroom, and you are looking to keep up with classes, you should immediately contact that teacher to inform them of your situation.

Q: What safety measures have been taken in classrooms?

A: Every classroom is supplied with a HEPA filter (an air purifier) and is required to keep windows open at least three inches, no matter the temperature. Students may wear winter hats, hoods and coats in classrooms to stay warm.

Q: Is remote learning an option for BLS?

A: As of now, DESE has decided to not count virtual learning days as school days, an obvious disincentive to going virtual, as days of virtual learning would have to be made up. Safety remains the administration’s number one priority, however, and they are evaluating the situation daily.

Q: Where can I get tests/tested?

A: There are free testing locations across the city of Boston in all neighborhoods. To find a testing site near you, visit

Q: Can students get booster shots?

A: The CDC recommends that adolescents ages 12 to 17 to receive their booster shot five months following their initial Pfizer vaccine. Adults over the age of 18 can receive either Moderna, Johnson and Johnson or Pfizer boosters. 

Q: Who do I email with questions?

A: You may email Ms. Jesse Kwan ([email protected]) with questions regarding pool testing, Ms. Almeida ([email protected]) or Ms. Brogan-Healy ([email protected]) with any health-related questions, and Assistant Head of School Steven Chen ([email protected]) can be contacted with any questions regarding absences.