February 23, 2022 Update

February 23, 2022 Update

Farmington Valley Health District / East Granby

PreK-12 Mask-Optional COVID-19 Mitigation 

Transition Plan

 

Assumptions 

This document includes recommendations from the Farmington Valley Health District (FVHD) as the transition to a COVID-19 “new normal” occurs within schools and the larger community. While community transmission in the Farmington Valley remains “substantial”, case rates are trending downward and are expected to reach “moderate” in the coming weeks. Future circumstances, such as a more virulent viral strain or increased community/school transmission, may warrant a shift in the mitigation strategies described below. The FVHD will continue to provide data updates on a regular basis to inform any needed adjustments to mitigation strategies. 

Goals

1. Early identification and exclusion of positive COVID-19 cases 

2. Monitoring school cases to allow for a rapid response to clusters and outbreaks

When does the option to wear a mask in school begin?

Monday, February 28, 2022

Please note: staff cannot be responsible for managing individual students regarding mask wearing during the school day. 

If my child will not be wearing a mask, or will be choosing to wear one intermittently throughout the day, is there anything recommended prior to coming to school on February 28, 2022?

Yes! The Department of Public Health recommends that each student and staff member be given two (2) COVID home tests prior to Monday, February 28, 2022. Ideally, one test should be performed at home in the morning prior to leaving for school on the first day mask choice is implemented, which is Monday, February 28, 2022. Self-testing will reduce the number of individuals coming to school while infectious, especially when a layer of protection, the mask, is optional. Individuals who have tested positive for COVID-19 in the past 90 days need not test again until the 90 days have lapsed. 

How can I get a test kit?

Each school will communicate distribution timeframes. Test kits will be distributed to parents/guardians only. Additionally, the Board of Education office will be open from 4PM - 6PM on Thursday evening, February 24, 2022. Parents/Guardians are welcome to come to the Board Office, located in the Allgrove Elementary School (opposite door from the Allgrove School entry door) and ring the bell to request a test kit for each student in the household. We will distribute all test kits currently in our possession until they are gone. East Granby is planning to pick up additional test kits on Friday morning, 2/25/2022. Mother Nature might have an alternative plan for us on Friday! If that is the case, and if school is impacted on Friday, we will communicate additional pick up opportunities prior to Monday morning. Parents/Guardians may pick up a test kit for all their children at one school location. 

Are masks still considered a strong mitigation strategy against COVID-19?

The FVHD, CT Department of Public Health (DPH) and Centers for Disease Control and Prevention still recognize appropriate and consistent mask wearing as a mitigation strategy that we encourage parents to consider for their children to reduce the risk of infection and disease spread. It is important to note that even though masks will not be worn by all, choosing to wear a well-fitting mask in indoor public settings does protect against acquisition of SARS-CoV-2 infection.

CDC Weekly Report 

CDC Guide to Mask Wearing

Does my student still need to wear a mask on the school bus?

Yes. The federal government continues to maintain an order requiring that masks be worn by all individuals using public transportation. School buses fall under this order and appropriate mask wearing will continue to be required on school buses until the federal order is rescinded. 

What if my student tests positive for COVID-19?

As has been our protocol, individuals who test positive for COVID-19 should isolate for 5 days after symptom onset (or positive test date if asymptomatic). They may return to school on day 6, at which time it is strongly recommended to mask appropriately and consistently through day 10. If individuals cannot or choose not to mask for days 6-10, the recommendation is that they delay their return to school until day 11. 

What if my student is a close contact of a known positive case but does not have any symptoms? 

Household Contacts 

Consistent with prior recommendations, unvaccinated contacts of a positive case within their household should quarantine at home for 5 days following their last exposure to the positive household member. They may return on day 6 provided they remain symptom free. Home testing the morning prior to return is strongly recommended. Household contacts that have tested positive in the past 90 days do not need to quarantine if they remain symptom free. 

School Contacts 

Individual case investigation for all school cases is no longer recommended by DPH. However, notification at the group-level (classroom, sports team, etc.) will occur, when possible. Asymptomatic close contacts, regardless of vaccination status, should not be excluded from activities. It is recommended that two home tests be performed at least 24 hours apart but not more than 48 hours apart, per home test kit instructions, after being notified of exposure to a positive case. 

What if my student is a close contact of a known positive case AND is experiencing symptoms?

If an individual develops symptoms AND has a known exposure, they should be sent home to complete 2 home tests at least 24 hours but not more than 48 hours apart. During this time, they should be excluded from classroom and extracurricular activities. They may return after both home tests show negative and their symptoms are significantly improved. 

What if my student developed symptoms but has had no known exposure to a COVID-19 positive individual? 

Symptomatic individuals who develop symptoms should complete 2 home tests at least 24 hours apart but not more than 48 hours apart. Those with no known exposure should not be excluded and may continue to attend classes and extracurricular activities between their two tests, provided the tests are negative, their symptoms remain mild, and they do not learn of an exposure. 

Should I notify the school nurse if my child tests positive?

Yes, please! East Granby continues to report positive cases to the state platform for documentation. This information is also important as an internal tool to ensure we are not experiencing transmission and outbreaks in the school setting. 

How will I know of COVID-19 positive cases in school?

East Granby Public Schools will continue keeping cases up to date on our COVID-19 dashboard.

Close contacts will be notified at the elementary level where classrooms are more contained. Notification will be for the purpose of encouraging home tests, and NOT for the purpose of exclusion from school. Although there is some mixing of grade levels at the middle school, we will begin to add the grade of the positive individual onto the dashboard. The high school population is entirely mixed between grades, and no additional notification will be provided.

What will be other mitigation strategies outside of masking?

It is the recommendation to maintain current levels of mitigation strategies when moving to a mask-optional model, where possible. Lunch and classroom social distancing will remain for the time being. We will continue to stress hand washing and hand sanitizing. These mitigation strategies will be lessened as our number of cases continue to decrease and remain controlled.

What about visitors to the school?

It is recommended and encouraged that any school visitors wear a mask when social distancing is not possible. 

How will the school district identify and address clusters and outbreaks?

A cluster is defined as 10% of students, faculty, or staff within a specified group (such as a classroom or sports team) OR 3 or more students, faculty, or staff within a specified group who test positive for COVID-19 within a 14-day period. This definition is provided as guidance and may be modified based on specific circumstances. 

In the absence of individual case investigations, schools will closely monitor absenteeism data, with particular attention to reason for the absence. At the middle and high school level where classroom-level cluster identification is more difficult, schools should be particularly vigilant for any increase in absences due to acute respiratory symptoms. 

If a cluster is identified, more information should be gathered from positive individuals to identify possible sources of exposure. An outbreak is a cluster where in-school transmission was highly likely. 

If an outbreak is identified, schools should follow DPH recommendations for enhanced mitigation strategies for outbreak control. 

These include: 

• Implementing a local universal masking policy for students and staff on a temporary basis. Implementation of masking can be done at the classroom, grade, or school level depending on the extent of transmission and structure of the school. 

• Limiting mixing of impacted grades, classrooms, or other groups (i.e., cohorting) during meals, recess, and other gathering times to limit spread while a school is experiencing an outbreak or cluster. 

• Limiting outside visitors to the school to those who are necessary for instructional or student support purposes. 

• Notifying potentially exposed students and staff and recommending testing. While individual contact tracing does not need to occur, students, staff, and families should be notified of outbreaks or clusters occurring within their classroom, sports team, grade, or school level depending on the extent of transmission and structure of the school. 

If a cluster cannot be controlled with these strategies, it may develop into a worsening cluster, defined as 20% of the group testing positive within 21 days. At this time, schools are encouraged to contact FVHD to discuss further mitigation strategies. 

What if I am not sure what to do next?

Please refer to the FVHD COVID-19 Decision Tree for PreK-12 students, also attached to this communication and available on our website. 

What are the symptoms I should be concerned with regarding my student?

Symptoms include: feeling feverish, chills, cough, shortness of breath, loss of taste and/or smell, congestion, runny nose, sore throat, fatigue, headache, nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, muscle pain. 

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