October 5, 2021
With all of the news stories right now I wanted to offer some clarity on the most recent changes to student quarantines and classroom closures. This is what I know today, but our guidance from the DOE is constantly shifting, so I appreciate your continued patience and flexibility.
There is some good news to report in a recent change announced by the Chancellor which might reduce an exposed “close contact” child’s quarantine period by two days (does not apply to positive individuals):
Elementary students who are identified as close contacts and are asymptomatic and not vaccinated may return to the classroom on the eighth (8th) day of their quarantine period, if they can produce a negative test taken on or after the fifth (5th) day of their quarantine.
At-home tests do not qualify, and PCR tests are more reliable than rapid tests. This guidance mirrors the current rules for middle and high school and must be followed exactly to shorten the quarantine period, e.g., negative test must be on or after the fifth day.
For all children: On any day, if your child is absent with any symptom that could be COVID (fever, cough, loss of taste/smell, sneezing, vomiting, etc.) they need to receive a negative molecular (PCR) COVID test before they can return to school – at-home rapid antigen tests do not qualify. You can provide this test result to your child’s teacher via Bloomz. Also, children must be fever free for 24 hours without the use of medication before they can return to school, even if they receive a negative COVID test. We want to avoid as many colds and flus for our students as possible.
A few more notes…
• While full classroom closures are not automatic due to a positive case in a child, we will work with our staff and the DOE Situation Room to identify close contacts of a positive case if the positive child was in the building during an infectious period. Given the requirements (we must be able to say that the COVID-positive individual was never closer than three feet while masked or six feet while unmasked) many members of a class may be considered close contacts. You will be notified if your child is a close contact, or if your child is in the class with someone who tested positive. As you know, we are not able to provide the name of the person who tested positive. PreK guidance may vary and will be addressed on an as-needed basis.
• A whole class closure is still necessary if an adult in the classroom tests positive for COVID. Although only vaccinated staff are in our school, they can still test positive. All of our teachers are vaccinated.
• I’d like to address one question that has come up a few times. Children must quarantine for the full 10 days from test and/or symptom onset if they test positive for COVID regardless of a subsequent negative test. This has been the firm guidance to us so far from the Situation Room.
Please know that we consistently advocate for families at every step of the way, escalating situations if the guidance does not seem clear. We fully understand the havoc a full or partial classroom closure can have on your lives. It is a delicate balance between keeping kids learning in person and safeguarding their health. In the end, we do need to follow the directions of the Situation Room, as they have access to the experts and current guidance.
Thank you for helping us keep our school community healthy!