Updated on October 21, 2021

The Center for Disease Control (CDC), Department of Public Health (DPH) and the Department of Early & Secondary Education (DESE) continue to share comprehensive protocols for how to handle an illness in school; we will be updating protocols as they come through.

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.

COVID-19 symptoms list:

  • Fever (100.0° Fahrenheit or higher), chills, or shaking chills
  • Difficulty breathing or shortness of breath
  • New loss of taste or smell
  • Muscle aches or body aches
  • Cough (not due to other known cause, such as chronic cough)
  • Sore throat, when in combination with other symptoms
  • Nausea, vomiting, or diarrhea
  • Headache when in combination with other symptoms
  • 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:

Protocol A: For individuals who test positive for COVID-19

  • Duration: Self-isolation for COVID-19 positive cases is a minimum of 10 days after symptom onset or after positive PCR/NAAT or antigen test, if asymptomatic.
  • Return to school: After 10 days* and once they have:
    • Been without fever for 24 hours (and without taking fever-reducing medications); and
    • Experienced improvement in other symptoms; and
    • Individuals who do not meet these criteria after 10 days may receive clearance from either public health authority contact tracers (the local board of health or Community Tracing Collaborative) or school health professional before returning to school.
  • Note: Return to school should be based on time and symptom resolution. Repeat testing prior to return is not recommended.

* If an individual tests positive as part of a group pooled test, the 10-day period begins the day the group pooled test returned a positive result.

Protocol B: Protocol for asymptomatic close contacts

Definition of a close contact

Close contacts are defined as individuals who have been within 6 feet of a COVID-19 positive individual while indoors, for at least 15 minutes during a 24-hour period.3 4 Please note that the at-risk exposure time begins 48 hours prior to symptom onset (or time of positive test if asymptomatic) and continues until the time the COVID-19 positive individual is isolated.

• Close contacts who have had COVID-19 within the past 90 days are exempt from testing and quarantine response protocols. An individual who has been previously diagnosed with COVID-19 and then becomes a close contact of someone with COVID-19 is exempt from testing and quarantine response protocols if:

o The exposure occurred within 90 days of the onset of their own illness AND

o The exposed individual is recovered and remains without COVID-19 symptoms.

Note: To be a close contact, the 15 minutes must occur within a 24-hour period. Multiple brief or transitory interactions (less than a minute) throughout the day are unlikely to result in 15 minutes of cumulative contact and do not meet the definition of close contact.

CDC definition of Close Contact. Available at: https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/community/schools- childcare/operation-strategy.html.

Protocol B for asymptomatic close contacts who are not exempt from testing and quarantine response protocols

Families are strongly encouraged to utilize the new Test and Stay (B-1) protocol option to minimize the amount of time individuals are out of school. This testing and quarantine response protocol has been shown to be generally equivalent to quarantine for school-based contacts, and a safe alternative to at-home isolation.

As part of Test and Stay, quarantine is still strongly recommended for individuals outside of school settings (eg: extracurriculars done outside of the school premises).

Bernadette C Young, David W Eyre, Saroj Kendrick, Chris White, Sylvester Smith, et. al. “A cluster randomized trial of the impact of a policy of daily testing for contacts of COVID-19 cases on attendance and COVID-19 transmission in English secondary schools and colleges.” (July 2021). medRxiv. Available at: https:/www.medrxiv.org/content/10.1101/2021.07.23.21260992v1

Protocol B-1 (Recommended): Test and Stay

• Duration of Test and Stay: 7 days from the date of exposure

• Return to School: Close contacts can remain in school and do not have to quarantine, as long as they:

o Are asymptomatic

o Wear masks in school at all times, other than when eating or drinking. When these individuals cannot be masked (i.e., when eating or drinking) they should maintain 3 feet of distance from other individuals to the extent feasible.

o Take a rapid antigen test (e.g., BinaxNOW) on each school day and receive a negative result. When the 7 days from date of exposure includes weekends or holidays, individuals should quarantine on weekends, and if they remain asymptomatic, upon return to school be tested immediately. If the individual remains negative, they can stay in school.

**Conduct active monitoring for symptoms through day 14, and self-isolate at home if symptoms develop.

• Note: If an individual has symptoms at the time they are designated as a close contact or develops symptoms during the Test and Stay period or the 14 days following initial exposure, they should follow the protocol for symptomatic individuals (Protocol C). If an individual tests positive at any time, they should follow the protocol for individuals who test positive for COVID-19 (Protocol A).

Protocol B-2: Traditional protocol (if family chooses not to participate in Test and Stay)

• Duration: Quarantine is at least 7 days from the date of exposure

• Return to School: After 7 days, returning on day 8, provided that they:

o Remain asymptomatic

o Receive a COVID test (molecular: PCR/NAAT) on day 5 or later and receive a negative result

o Conduct active monitoring for symptoms through day 14, and self-isolate if symptoms develop.

• Note: If an individual has symptoms at the time they are designated as a close contact or within the 14 days following initial exposure, they follow the protocol for symptomatic individuals (Protocol C). If an individual tests positive at any time, they follow the protocol for individuals who test positive for COVID-19 (Protocol A).

Protocol B-3: Alternate protocol for those who choose not to receive a COVID test

• Duration: Quarantine is at least 10 days from the date of exposure

• Return to School: After 10 days, returning on day 11, provided that they:

o Have not experienced symptoms up to this point

o Conduct active monitoring for symptoms through day 14 and self-isolate if symptoms develop.

• Note: If an individual has symptoms at the time they are designated as a close contact or within the 14 days following initial exposure, they follow the protocol for symptomatic individuals (Protocol C). If an individual tests positive at any time, they follow the protocol for individuals who test positive for COVID-19 (Protocol A).

CDC Science Brief: Options to Reduce Quarantine for Contacts of Persons with SARS-CoV-2 Infection Using Symptom Monitoring and Diagnostic Testing. Dec 2, 2020. Available at: https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019- ncov/science/science-briefs/scientific-brief-options-to-reduce-quarantine.html.

Protocol B-4: Positive HOME contact protocol

If a student has a family member at home with active COVID-19, the student is at high risk and must remain quarantined at home. He/she may not participate in the Test & Stay protocol. Quarantine length depends on whether the COVID positive individual is able to isolate, and when they are no longer contagious. If the sick individual is able to completely isolate from the student, once that person isolates (and child is no longer in contact with them), then the student can follow either Protocol B-2 or B3 above and quarantine for another 7-10 days accordingly. If the symptomatic individual is unable to fully isolate from the student, the student’s quarantine is for the entire time the COVID positive individual is contagious PLUS another 7-10 days depending on whether the child will be tested (see B-2 or B-3 accordingly). The person is considered contagious until they meet ALL of the following three criteria: (1) 10 days since symptoms appeared (or test was positive, if asymptomatic), (2) symptoms improving, AND (3) has been fever free without medications for 24 hours. This may be different for immunocompromised individuals. When the child is unable to isolate from the COVID positive person in the home, their quarantine will likely be a minimum of 17 days. See flowchart for examples.

Protocol C for symptomatic individuals:

Protocol C applies to vaccinated and non-vaccinated individuals who experience the COVID- 19 symptoms listed above.

Protocol C-1 (Recommended): Return to school post-symptoms with test

• Duration: Dependent on symptom resolution

• Return to School: Individuals may return to school after they:

o Have received a negative molecular (PCR/NAAT) test result for COVID-19.

o Have improvement in symptoms

o Have been without fever for at least 24 hours without the use of fever-reducing medications.

• Note: If the symptomatic individual was a close contact who is not exempt from testing and quarantine response protocols, after symptoms resolve and they receive a negative PCR/NAAT test, they should follow Protocol B-1 for Test and Stay.

o If the family opts not to participate, they follow Protocol B-2 or B-3.

*siblings of symptomatic students may continue to attend school as long as they remain symptom free UNLESS the symptomatic student ALSO has had a recent COVID-19 exposure, in which case all siblings should remain home while awaiting the symptomatic student’s PCR/NAAT test result.

Protocol C-2: Alternative protocol for symptomatic individuals who are not close contacts and choose not to receive a COVID test to return to school

• Duration: Isolation is at least 10 days from symptom onset

• Return to School: After 10 days, returning on day 11, assuming they:

o Have improvement in symptoms

o Have been without fever for at least 24 hours without the use of fever-reducing medication.

CDC Interim Guidance on Ending Isolation and Precautions for Adults with COVID-19. Mar 16, 2021. Available at: https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/hcp/duration-isolation.html.

Routine COVID pooled testing protocols

Routine COVID pooled testing involves combining several test samples together and then testing the group sample with a PCR test for detection of COVID-19. Testing for all consenting students and staff members will typically take place once per week. Each individual will collect two samples each time. One will be used for the pooled test, the other will be reserved for any necessary follow up testing.

Protocol for routine COVID pooled testing

If the routine group pooled testing result is negative, then:
• All individuals within that group are presumed negative and should remain in school.

If the routine group pooled testing result is positive, then:

• All individuals within that group will be retested individually using their second swab to identify who within the pool was positive.

• If asymptomatic, members of the group should return to school until and unless an individual is identified as positive. Individuals in the group should wear masks until the positive individual is identified.

• Symptomatic members of the group should stay home and follow Protocol C.

We appreciate your continued patience. All protocols are subject to change given the ever shifting landscape of this pandemic.

 

Take care and stay safe.

The Health Committee

 

617-926-6979
school@ssaes.org
47 Nichols Avenue, Watertown, MA 02472

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