Community Update – December 10, 2021
We are changing our quarantining procedures for students and staff who are considered close contacts due to a school exposure. This new quarantine process will begin on 12/13/2021.
Quarantining students at home who have been exposed to COVID-19 in a school environment has the unintended consequence of reducing in-person learning and can be an added strain on families. An in-school alternative to quarantining students and school staff at home who have been exposed to COVID-19 in a school environment to support in-school learning and reduce the strain needs to be offered.
This recommendation is informed by a growing body of national experience that points toward a low number of individuals with direct contact to a COVID-19 positive individual within a school setting who convert to positive cases (1-3%). The CDC has characterized this practice as “promising” and is currently evaluating more data. Based on this information, we recommend the following for K-12 students and staff exposed to COVID-19 in a school setting.
Added 1/19/2022: Any student or staff who is wearing a mask and identified as a close contact will not need to participate in the mask-to-stay or test-to play protocols.
Please note: Eligibility to participate in mask to stay/test to play is contingent on the exposure being in the school setting or school-related activities. This does not apply to household exposures or exposures outside of the school setting or school-related activities.
Mask to Stay
Direct contacts, regardless vaccination or masking status, may remain in the classroom environment if they do the following:
- Wear a mask for 10 days after their last date of exposure, unless students test on day 5 or later (these dates will be given to parents by the school nurse). Once students receive a negative PCR test on day 5 or later, they may remove their mask on Day 8.
- Since students will be unmasked for at least some of the lunch period, students required to wear a mask to stay in school will be seated separately during their lunch period.
- Compliance with mask to stay will be closely monitored. Students who are required to mask to stay who are non-compliant with mask wearing will be required to quarantine and participate in synchronous or asynchronous learning for the remainder of their quarantine period.
- Must self-monitor, or parent-monitor, for symptoms of COVID-19.
- Check in with the school nurse every morning for symptom monitoring.
- Isolate and get tested if they start to experience symptoms associated with COVID-19 (regardless of level of severity of the symptom).
Parents may elect to have their student quarantine and attend virtually (in grades 6-12) or to receive work at home (in grades PK-5) if they would prefer their student not participate in the mask to stay protocol. Parents must notify the school if they wish their student to not participate in the mask to stay protocol so that arrangements for virtual classes (only for grades 6-12) or receiving work to complete at home (only for PK-5) can be made.
As a reminder, a close contact where one individual was unmasked is defined as an individual who was within 6 feet of the probable or confirmed case for at least 15 minutes. A close contact where both individuals were masked is defined as an individual who was within 3 feet of the probable or confirmed case for at least 15 minutes.
Parents and students are responsible for symptom monitoring; however, if nurses/school staff see a child exhibiting symptoms they may further evaluate the student and suggest quarantining if necessary.
Test to Play
Asymptomatic contacts may continue to participate in extracurricular activities if they do the following:
- Wear a mask when able. (This includes: transportation; locker rooms; sitting/standing on the sidelines; and anytime the mask will not interfere with breathing, the activity, or create a safety hazard.)
- Test on initial notification of exposure to COVID-19 within 24 hours of notification. Students can continue to participate in extracurricular activities while this test result is pending or awaiting a test within a 24 hour window. If the test result is negative, students must test again on day 5. If they are negative at this time on a PCR test, they will test out of the mask to stay protocol on Day 8.
- If students do not take two tests as described above, they will not be allowed to continue participating in extracurricular activities until their quarantine period is over.
- If students can participate in an extracurricular activity safely with a mask, they do not need to complete the mandatory test to play protocols. They must wear their mask correctly throughout their mask to stay period.
Please Note: The tests referenced above are SARS-CoV-2 viral PCR tests. They should be proctored/observed by someone and cannot be an over the counter, at home test that was self-administered without a proctor.
The district may consider same day antigen or PCR testing for athletic competitions where there is the potential of school-to-school exposure. This is the only time the district will accept rapid antigen results.
If students involved in competitions become positive for COVID-19, contact tracing with another team does not need to occur; instead, send a general letter to notify the other team of the potential exposure.
These proposed changes incorporate mask wearing and testing to reduce the chance of spread of COVID-19 within structured school settings and provides a safe alternative to quarantine.
The district will continue to monitor the Covid-19 situation in our community and could make changes to this protocol or return to traditional at-home quarantining protocols should the situation warrant. If that becomes necessary, we will inform the school community of the change.
I would be happy to speak with anyone who has questions. I can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or 724-658-4501 ext 2301.
Dr. Michael A. Ross