COVID-19 Protocols Update 3.8.22

COVID-19 Protocols Update 3.8.22
Posted on 03/08/2022
COVID-10 Protocols Update 3.8.22

We have received new guidance from the New York State Department of Health. This update considers the most recent guidance by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, which ended its recommendation for masks in schools for most settings. The ability to make masks optional is related to the transmission level in a community. At this point, Ulster County is currently designated “Low Transmission.” Should this designation change, Ulster County is authorized to implement masking requirements. Please also note that only counties have this authority, not school districts. The new masking guidance is available here, and additional information is summarized in this FAQ from the governor’s office. Below are some important highlights:

SYMPTOMATIC INDIVIDUALS

· Please continue to monitor for symptoms of illness, regardless of vaccination status or recent COVID-19 infection. It is essential that individuals do not come to school/work when sick, especially if the symptoms are common to the COVID-19 virus. Contact your school nurse if experiencing illness.

· Those with symptoms are not permitted to attend school for at least 5 days unless they test negative for COVID-19. Testing may include the use of home-kits.

· If the symptoms have improved (including being fever-free for 24 hours without the use of fever-reducing medications), an untested individual may return to school on Day 6, however, they MUST wear a well-fitting mask through Day 10, when indoors and while riding district transportation.

POSITIVE INDIVIDUALS

· An individual who has tested positive, either with or without symptoms, MUST isolate for 5 days.

· If the symptoms have improved (including being fever-free for 24 hours without the use of fever-reducing medications), the individual may return to school on Day 6, however, they MUST wear a well-fitting mask through Day 10, when indoors and while riding district transportation.

· All positive tests need to be reported to the school nurse.

EXPOSURE AND RECOMMENDED TESTING

NYS aligns with the CDC definition of close contact in schools. A close contact is anyone who is less than 6 feet away from an infected person for a cumulative total of 15 minutes or more over a 24-hour period. In the school setting, with universal masking, a close contact was generally defined as less than 3 feet from an infected student if both the infected student and the exposed student(s) correctly and consistently wore well-fitting masks the entire time. The exception allowing 3-feet of distance to determine exposure in schools does not apply to unmasked individuals, nor does it apply to teachers, staff, or other adults regardless of masking. This means that in settings where masks are not worn, anyone within a 6-foot radius of an infected person should be considered exposed.

Exposed individuals, regardless of vaccination status, may remain in school by appropriately wearing a well-fitting mask and undergoing recommended testing and may participate in school-based extracurricular activities. These individuals also may continue to ride the school bus.

· Contact tracing protocols are still required and will involve notifications to those affected. Our nurses will inform contacts via email, when possible. Students will no longer be excluded from the classroom setting, school buses, or extra-curricular activities due to exposure, if they are symptom-free.

· It is strongly recommended that individuals, regardless of vaccination status, who have been identified as a close contact, of someone with COVID-19 wear a well-fitting mask for 10 days after exposure.

· The Test-to-Stay program has been eliminated, although testing is strongly recommended.

· Families/Staff will be offered COVID-19 home testing kits to complete the recommended testing on day 1 and 5 after exposure. The Free at-home testing kits are available by contacting the school nurse or Main Office. Parents/guardians/staff can pick-up testing kits at the Main Office or give permission for the testing kit to be sent home with their child. [These testing kits may ONLY be opened by parents/guardians.]

· District-wide notifications of positive cases will continue to be updated on the Daily COVID-19 Report on our website.

· Weekly screen testing continues to be mandatory per New York State Department of Health (NYSDOH) for unvaccinated staff. Exception: Individuals with lab-confirmed COVID-19 within the past 3 months do not need to get tested unless they develop symptoms.

MASKING

· Masking is optional for students/staff/visitors in the school setting or at extracurricular/ after school activities. Masks can be obtained in Main Offices.

· Masking is no longer required on school buses or vans. Individuals who are required to wear masks in school should wear masks on school transportation (see next requirement).

· Students, staff and teachers who return after 5 days due to COVID-19 infection are required to wear masks on return to school during Days 6 – 10 of their isolation period. 

· Whenever persons are expected or required to wear masks, masks may be removed when eating, drinking, singing, going outside, or playing a wind instrument. When masks are removed for these purposes, physical distancing of 6 or more feet should be maintained to the extent possible.

· Masks are strongly recommended when entering the health offices for illness in each school due to the increased potential of infection.

NYSDOH recommends students, staff and teachers wear masks when:

· They feel more comfortable wearing a mask for personal reasons.

· They were in the same room within the school as someone diagnosed with COVID-19 for 15 minutes or longer and were thus exposed or potentially exposed.

· They are known to have been exposed to COVID-19 in any setting within the previous 10 days.

· They are moderately-to-severely immunocompromised and have discussed the need to mask with their healthcare provider(s).

The Daily Health Screening for students/staff will no longer be required. If you are experiencing symptoms or illness, please contact your school nurse.

As we follow the State’s new directions on masking in our schools, please be assured that our number one concern remains the health and safety of our learning community. We will continue to implement mitigation strategies to minimize the spread of illness. We encourage our families and staff to make informed decisions about not sending their children/themselves to school when sick, testing, and masking. This will assist us in keeping everyone healthy and continuing to operate with mask-optional guidance in our schools.

Online resources.
https://coronavirus.health.ny.gov/schools-youth
https://coronavirus.health.ny.gov/new-york-state-contact-tracing