Covid Update

COVID Update 1/9/22
Posted on 01/09/2022

Over the weekend, we have had a couple of reported cases of COVID-19 among our secondary student population. Because it is on the secondary side, significantly more close contacts may be affected. We have contacted anyone we were able to identify as a potential close contact, and we have asked them to come in for testing on Monday morning before school. This testing will involve many students and may strain our supply of tests. This increase in cases is not a surprise since the Omicron variant has proven highly infectious and promotes the rapid spread of the disease. If you or your children have any symptoms related to COVID, you should assume that you are positive and follow appropriate isolation and quarantine protocols.

In other news, the Department of Health (DOH) published new guidelines for managing the disease. The isolation period for symptomatic individuals and others who test positive for COVID-19 has been reduced to five (5) days after symptom onset or the positive specimen collection date. This five (5) day isolation period still requires that no symptoms are present or symptoms are improving, and the individual has had no fever for at least 24 hours without the aid of fever-reducing medication. If we have the testing supplies, we recommend using an antigen test on day five (5) of isolation. If the test is negative, the individual may return to school on day six (6) but must continue to wear a well-fitting mask. If the test is positive or the individual is still experiencing symptoms, they must complete the entire 10-day isolation period.

We also have clarification regarding close contacts, who must quarantine, and who is exempt from quarantine. With testing on day five (5), we can reduce the quarantine period to five (5) days for those who must quarantine. Without testing, quarantine periods remain at 10 and 14 days.

Who must quarantine? Staff and students who:

  • Are ages 18 and older and completed the primary series of recommended vaccines but have not received the recommended booster dose when eligible (5 months after initial series for Pfizer and Moderna; 2 months after receiving the single dose J & J vaccine).

  • Are not vaccinated or have not completed the primary vaccine series.

Who is exempt from quarantine? Staff and students who:

  • Are ages 18 or older and have received all recommended vaccine doses, including boosters and additional primary shots for some immunocompromised people.

  • Are ages 5 - 17 years and completed the primary series of COVID-19 vaccines.

  • Had a confirmed case of COVID-19 within the last 90 days (as of today, since Oct. 12, 2021).

We should all remember, “anyone that may be infectious needs to be very careful around high-risk individuals: children under 5 years of age, elders older than 65, those known to be immunocompromised, and the unvaccinated.”

These new guidelines represent a shift in thinking about COVID-19. According to Dr. Frank James, “We are not going to prevent every infection this not a practical goal. We are going to try to keep the highest risk people as safe as we are able.” 

We expect this current wave of COVID to be short-lived (currently estimated at approximately three weeks). As a school district, we will do everything possible to keep kids in school and learning. But, we should be aware that staff shortages and other circumstances may impact our ability to do so.

Ed Murray
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