Parents and guardians,
I received several clarification emails today regarding the recent changes to the Department of Elementary and Secondary Education (DESE) protocols, and the CDC/DPH guidance. I found this information helpful and hope it clarifies somethings for families as well. Also, anyone testing positive for Covid-19 is exempt from testing for 90 days. Nursing alerts administration and, at LMMHS, the Athletic Director, of the 90 day exemption and provides a return to testing date.
Updated DESE and DPH Protocols
DESE and DPH have updated joint guidance on Protocols for Responding to COVID-19 Scenarios – SY 2021-22. The updated Protocols document includes new language on isolation and quarantine durations, as well additional flexibility in the use of antigen tests for symptomatic individuals. In addition to posting the latest guidance document at the link above, the following version has had the key changes highlighted for ease of use: Protocols for Responding to COVID-19 Scenarios – SY 2021-22 (Highlighted)
FAQ: Does the DESE/DPH guidance recommend that individuals who have tested positive for COVID-19 take another test before returning to school after the 5-day isolation period?
A: No, the DESE/DPH guidance does not recommend repeat testing prior to returning to school, so long as individuals are asymptomatic and/or their symptoms are improving. Individuals must mask when around others for an additional five days after the isolation period.
Amendment to the Test & Stay Protocol
The Test and Stay duration has been amended from 7 days from the date of exposure to 5 days from the date of exposure. Close contacts can remain in school and do not have to quarantine, as long as they:
- Are asymptomatic
- 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.
- Take a rapid antigen test (e.g., BinaxNOW) on each school day and receive a negative result. When the 5 days from date of exposure includes weekends or holidays, individuals should quarantine on weekends, and if they remain
asymptomatic, upon return to school to school be tested immediately. If the
individual remains negative, they can stay in school.
We’ve received a large number of questions regarding post-holiday testing and we would like to remind everyone of the approved testing protocols for the program:
- Symptomatic Testing: for when individuals present symptoms while at school; (individuals should not go to school if experiencing symptoms while at home)
- Test and Stay: for asymptomatic in-school close contacts of individuals with confirmed COVID-19
- Routine COVID Pooled Testing and School-Based Follow-Up Testing: If a group tests positive, individual Follow-Up testing with a second sample collection occurs at the school with BinaxNOW
- Routine COVID Pooled Testing and Lab-Based Follow-Up Testing: If a group tests positive, individual Follow-Up testing occurs at the lab, without a second sample collection. (Veritas or Broad Double Swab testing)
BinaxNOW tests may only be used for Test and Stay, Symptomatic Testing, and reflex tests after a positive pool. They are not approved for surveillance testing.
Frequently Asked Questions
Q: Is Test & Stay still only for in-school close contacts?
A: Yes, this has not changed. Please refer to this FAQ from DESE.
Q: Who is considered fully vaccinated?
A: Fully vaccinated is defined as two-weeks following the completion of the Pfizer or Moderna series or two-weeks following a single dose of Johnson & Johnson’s Janssen vaccine. Please see footnote #5 on the Protocols for Responding to COVID-19 Scenarios – SY 2021-22 (Highlighted)
Q: Can vaccinated close contacts be included in Test and Stay?
A: No, this has not changed. Vaccinated close contacts are exempt from Testing and Quarantine Protocols. Please see page 3 on the Protocols for Responding to COVID-19 Scenarios – SY 2021-22 (Highlighted)