As many of us have gathered with family over the break, I am certain you have heard of a spike in COVID-19 cases throughout the nation due, in large part, to the new Omicron variant. You may have also heard that the CDC has released new Isolation and Quarantine protocols for asymptomatic people.
“Given what we currently know about COVID-19 and the Omicron variant, CDC is shortening the recommended time for isolation from 10 days for people with COVID-19 to 5 days, if asymptomatic, followed by 5 days of wearing a mask when around others. The change is motivated by science demonstrating that the majority of SARS-CoV-2 transmission occurs early in the course of illness, generally in the 1-2 days prior to onset of symptoms and the 2-3 days after. Therefore, people who test positive should isolate for 5 days and, if asymptomatic at that time, they may leave isolation if they can continue to mask for 5 days to minimize the risk of infecting others.” (https://www.cdc.gov/media/releases/2021/s1227-isolation-quarantine-guidance.html)
So as we start the New Year, I think it is an excellent time to review best practices and outline the new COVID-19 protocols.
If you are sick, STAY HOME- I may have mentioned this a time or two before, but it is more important than ever. Just as important, the flu and stomach viruses are also contagious, so please stay home if you have symptoms of any of these illnesses. Additionally, if you take a Covid-19 test, please stay home until the results are back.
Our top two priorities for a safe return to school have not changed:
Vaccination is still the #1 tool to combat the COVID-19 virus. Everyone 5 years and older has plentiful access to the vaccination.
If you are sick, stay home! Students and staff must not come to school with a fever of 100.4 degrees or higher and must not come to school until they have been fever-free, without the use of fever-reducing medication, for at least 24 hours.
We are not reporting holiday break COVID-19 numbers to the Department of Public Health (DPH). However, our nurses and administrators will need this information to prepare for the second semester. Please email your school nurse if your student has tested positive for COVID-19 over the break or if he or she has been deemed close contact by DPH guidelines.
Per CDC/DPH guidance:
“You may discontinue home isolation if you had symptoms when:
- At least 5 days* have passed since symptoms first appeared and
- At least 24 hours have passed since last fever without the use of fever-reducing medications and
- Symptoms (e.g., cough, shortness of breath) have improved
You may discontinue home isolation if you did NOT have symptoms when:
- At least 5 days have passed since the positive laboratory test and you remain asymptomatic
- Note, if you later develop symptoms, you should follow the guidance for symptomatic persons above.
*To determine when 5 days have passed, you can consider that day 0 of isolation defined as either the date your symptoms started, if symptomatic, or the date of your first positive test, if asymptomatic. If leaving isolation earlier than 10 days, you should continue to wear a mask around others for the remainder of the 10 days.”
Below you will find the dates a student may return if he or she has a positive COVID-19 test or is a close contact with a COVID-19 positive case.
BCS has instituted an Alternative Quarantine Policy (AQP) this year that prioritized in-person learning. The CDC’s new quarantine guidance mirrors our AQP in many ways. As such, we will continue to use our current Alternative Quarantine Policy requiring mask use for 10 days after exposure (and a signed parent form). The only adaptation we will make relates to close contact within the household (they currently must stay home for 7/10 days). They will be able to return after 5 days home quarantine and then wear a mask for the remaining 5 days.
Date of last exposure: AQP-wear a mask for 10 days (Close Contact within a household can return after 5 days and wear a mask for the remaining 5 days)
(Close Contact within a household can return after 5 days and wear a mask for the remaining 5 days)
Thank you for your continued support and flexibility as we navigate this New Year. We are all very excited to have everyone back in the buildings (as I am sure you are) and making great choices in 2022!
Dr. Robert Downs
Buford City Schools