Last April 22, Earth Day and Stairway’s 31st birthday, we learned that a team member tested positive for COVID-19. Suddenly, what had so far been a delightful, socially distanced celebration, with watch parties and a Zoom meeting, turned into a social distance test site for COVID-19.
Nurses in fuchsia-colored hazmat suits entered Stairway with their test kits and proceeded to test all children and staff. It turned out that seven staff members tested positive, including four of our colleagues working on the farm. Fortunately, the children and everybody else tested negative. For those members who tested positive, we also tested their family members for the virus. That process resulted in another three positive cases. After completing the tests, Stairway locked down. Only essential workers, like house-parents and the kitchen team, stayed on. Everyone else went into home-based self-quarantine, aside from the farm team, who stays isolated in the farmhouse.
The quarantine period will soon be over, and so far nobody has developed any symptoms. However, we are not returning to business as before Earth Day. We have learned a lesson, as the virus proved capable of finding a way into Stairway. We need to be even stricter in our efforts from here on, so we are in the process of developing a plan for a safer continued operation.