Updated on Dec. 10, 2020

Due to COVID19's ever changing patterns of infection and activity we continue to strategize how best to keep our community safe. We would like to keep you informed of our school's guidelines as per the state's Department of Public Healthy (DPH). Please read the following plans carefully, and let us know if you have any questions or concerns.

The Center for Disease Control (CDC), Department of Public Health (DPH) and the Department of Early & Secondary Education (DESE) have put out comprehensive protocols for how to handle an illness in school. Both the preschool and the elementary school will be following the same protocol.

Caregivers should be monitoring their children, and staff will monitor themselves and the students for any symptoms.

Symptoms include:
- fever (100.0 degree Fahrenheit or higher), chills, or shaking chills
- cough (not due to other known cause, such as chronic cough)
- difficulty breathing or shortness of breath
- new loss of taste or smell
- sore throat
- headache when in combination with other symptoms
- muscle aches or body aches
- nausea, vomiting, or diarrhea
- fatigue, when in combination with other symptoms
- nasal congestion or runny nose (not due to other known causes, such as allergies) when in combination with other symptoms

Cases will be handled as follows:

  • Student is symptomatic: If at home, they AND their sibling(s) should stay home. If at school, they will be isolated in a designated area, parents will be contacted and should pick their student(s) up as soon as possible. Current Massachusetts DPH guidance is that ALL symptomatic individuals in Massachusetts, even those with mild symptoms, should be tested for COVID-19. This is KEY to our school being able to ensure the safety of our students and their families and is the only way we will be able to contain any possible outbreak. A list of available test sites are here: https://www.mass.gov/info-details/about-covid-19-testing#where-can-get-a-test? - Massachusetts also has an interactive testing map: https://memamaps.maps.arcgis.com/apps/webappviewer/index.html?id =eba3f0395451430b9f631cb095febf13 It is essential that students with symptoms contact their pediatrician for further instructions and notify the school (Digin Maral in the preschool, Arlet in the Elementary school) immediately when a test has been done and then immediately upon results. The following scenarios will be handled accordingly:

(a) Individual tests negative: they may return to school once they have been symptom free without medications for 24 hours. Sibling(s) may return immediately.

(b) Individual tests positive: remain home, monitor symptoms, notify personal close contacts and answer the call from the local board of health. They may return after 10 days of onset of symptoms AND having been symptom free without medications for at least 3 days. Sibling(s) should remain quarantined due to their “close contact” exposure as indicated below.

(c) Individual is not tested: Again, this scenario is strongly discouraged. But should the family choose not to test, the Individual and their sibling(s) must remain home in self-isolation for 10 days from symptom onset and may not return until fever free without medications for at least 3 days. Classmates' parents will be notified of a sick peer in quarantine and parents can decide accordingly if they'd like to quarantine their student, test 4-5 days after exposure, or not. Testing is crucial to ensure in-classroom education is possible.

2. Close contacts of a positive case: Should an individual in the classroom test positive, classmates will be notified immediately of a positive case. The classmates and the teacher will be asked to follow the most recent DPH guidelines and remain quarantined for one of the two following options:

  • at least 14 days from the date of last exposure; OR
  • at least 10 days, provided ALL of the following are satisfied:
    • individual has not had, and did not have, any symptoms;
    • individual monitors themselves for symptoms and takes temperature daily for the full 14
    • days. IF even mild symptoms develop or the individual has a temperature of 100.0 F, they must immediately self-isolate, contact the school as well as their physician to get tested.

Testing is no longer required though it is encouraged. The shortened 10-day quarantine leaves a residual risk of 1% of disease development. The 14-day quarantine provides maximal risk reduction. Decisions will be made on a case by case basis as per the specific guidance by our local Watertown Department of Public Health.

Sibling(s) of close contacts may continue to go to school if they (and their close contact sibling) are symptom free without medications.

If you remain asymptomatic you can find free testing at “STOP THE SPREAD” locations. Please read more at the following link: https://www.mass.gov/info-details/stop-the-spread

3. Student is exposed to a known COVID-19 positive contact outside of school: they alone will follow step 2 above. The remainder of their classmates can continue to attend school as they normally would. Should the individual exposed test positive, then step 2 will be implemented for the entire classroom. If the COVID-19 positive individual is a student’s household member, and this household member is unable to isolate from the student, then the student’s quarantine starts immediately and continues ten days AFTER the COVID-19 positive individual has been cleared from illness. Daily monitoring, as noted above, continues throughout this period and for the full 14 days after the positive case has improved. Since it takes ten days from the start of symptoms to be cleared, the student potentially will quarantine for a total of 20 days.

We appreciate your patience during these unusual times. The landscape of this pandemic is ever changing, and most certainly there will need to be adjustments made as we move forward. With your cooperation and vigilance we believe we can keep our students, their families, and our staff safe and healthy!

Take care and stay safe.

The Health Committee