Change in Quarantine and Isolation Guidance

Change in Quarantine and Isolation Guidance
Posted on 01/28/2022
HCPS LogoJanuary 28, 2022 Update:

Dear Families, Faculty, and Staff,

We hope you are well. We are writing to share an important COVID-19 update with you, specifically as it relates to our approach to contact tracing and quarantines moving forward.

As you may have seen, the Virginia Department of Health (VDH) announced this week that it is ending contact tracing in most circumstances as the current variant, Omicron, “is now the most common COVID-19 variant and is spreading so quickly, it is not possible or fruitful to track every case.” Instead, the VDH is shifting its focus to following up on outbreaks and cases in high-risk settings, as well as promoting disease prevention and health mitigation strategies.

Contact tracing has also placed a significant strain on our Health Services staff, building administrators, and others who have worked tirelessly over the past 22 months, often seven days a week, to meet these demands while also working hard to ensure our students receive a top-tier education. We remain incredibly grateful for their selfless and exhaustive efforts to serve our students and families. However, these efforts are no longer sustainable, and we agree with the VDH’s assessment in this regard. We also understand that the related quarantining of close contacts has placed a significant burden on our students and their families.

Working in conjunction with Chickahominy Health District public health officials and our School Board, we have decided to take the following approach to COVID-19 quarantines and contact tracing, effective immediately:

- We will no longer be contact tracing for individual COVID-19 cases in our schools, following the Virginia Department of Health’s lead.
- Students who are currently in remote learning as a result of being identified as a close contact may return to school on Monday, January 31 as long as they are asymptomatic. This includes being fever-free for 24 hours without the use of fever reducing medications.
- Students who test positive for COVID-19 must continue to isolate themselves at home for 10 days from the onset of their symptoms or their positive test result, whichever occurs first. Remote learning will continue for students who test positive for COVID-19 and are required to isolate, currently or in the future.
- Employees who test positive must continue to isolate for five days from the onset of their symptoms or their positive test result, whichever occurs first. They will return to work with enhanced mask wearing following that isolation period, assuming they are able to isolate while they eat lunch and they are asymptomatic. This includes being fever-free for 24 hours without the use of fever reducing medications.
- Our schools will continue to communicate the number of positive cases to their communities via schoolwide email messages and we will notify the VDH of any outbreaks that occur in our buildings.
- We will continue to closely monitor the impact of COVID-19 on our school buildings, work with public health officials, and update our 2021-22 COVID-19 dashboard to transparently show the virus’ effect throughout our school division.

We recognize this decision represents another significant change in the ever-changing pandemic landscape. However, this shift allows our educators and staff, who have spent significant time during the pandemic on contact tracing, to spend greater focus on teaching and caring for the complex needs of our students, as well as the successful operation of our schools. Since the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic nearly 23 months ago, we have been committed to the wellbeing of our students, employees, and greater community. We have collaborated closely with our local and state public health officials, and have done everything reasonably possible to keep you informed about health concerns and related decisions connected to our schools. Those commitments and that collaboration remain intact.

As noted in the message that we shared with you yesterday, we will also continue with other health mitigation strategies, such as encouraging social distancing to the greatest extent possible, frequently cleaning our buildings, bathrooms, buses, and high-touch surfaces, and routinely checking our ventilation systems to ensure they are functioning properly (each of our HVAC units have, at a minimum, MERV 10 filters and several air handlers have double filters, where possible). As we have routinely stressed throughout the pandemic, one of the most effective health mitigation strategies is to stay home when you are sick. We ask that you please continue to do your part by not sending your child to school if they are sick.

We continue to ask for your continued patience, grace, and kindness as we navigate through these ongoing changes. We ask that you extend the same to one another, understanding that this is a very sensitive topic for many and that we are all here for one unified reason - to help ensure our students receive an outstanding education and thrive in all aspects of their lives. Again, we are extremely grateful for your continued support of our efforts to keep our schools open and safe.

Thank you.

***
Queridas Familias, Maestros/as, y Personal,

Esperamos que estén bien. Escribimos para compartir con ustedes una actualización importante sobre COVID-19 específicamente cómo abordaremos el rastreo de contactos y las cuarentenas en el futuro.

Como habrán visto, el Departamento de Salud de Virginia (Virginia Department of Health o VDH, por sus siglas en inglés) anunció esta semana que estará terminando el rastreo de contactos en la mayoría de las circunstancias, ya que la variante actual, Omicron, "es ahora la variante más común del COVID-19 y se está propagando tan rápidamente que no es posible ni fructífero rastrear todos los casos." En cambio, el VDH está cambiando su enfoque al seguimiento de brotes y casos en entornos de alto riesgo, así como la promoción de estrategias de prevencion de enfermedades y mitigación de la salud.

El rastreo de contactos también ha ejercido una presión signifactiva sobre nuestro personal de Servicios de Salud, administradores/as en los edificios escolares y otros que han trabajado incansablemente durante los últimos 22 meses, muchas veces siete días a la semana, para satisfacer estas obligaciones mientras también trabajan para garantizar que nuestros estudiantes reciban una educación de primer nivel. Estamos increíblemente agradecidos por sus esfuerzos exhaustivos para servir a nuestros estudiantes y familias. Sin embargo, estos esfuerzos ya no son sostenibles y estamos de acuerdo con la evaluación de la VDH a este respecto. También entendemos que la cuarentena relacionada con contactos cercanos ha impuesto una carga significativa a nuestros estudiantes y sus familias.

Trabajando en conjunto con las autoridades de salud pública del Districto de Salud de Chickahominy (Chickahominy Health District) y nuestra Junta Escolar, hemos decidido adoptar la siguiente estrategia para las cuarentenas y el rastreo de contactos de COVID-19, con efecto inmediato:

- Ya no rastrearemos contactos para casos individuales de COVID-19 en nuestras escuelas, siguiendo el ejemplo del Departamento de Salud de Virginia.
- Estudiantes que están haciendo actualmente el aprendizaje a distancia por resultado de haber sido identificados/as como un contacto cercano pueden regresar a la escuela el lunes, 31 de enero, siempre y cuando estén asintomáticos. Esto incluye estar libre de fiebre durante 24 horas sin el uso de medicamentos para reducir la fiebre.
- Estudiantes que resulten positivos para el COVID-19 deben de continuar aislándose en casa para 10 días desde el inicio de los síntomas o desde su resultado positivo de la prueba, lo que ocurra primero. El aprendizaje a distancia continuará para los/las estudiantes que den positivo a la prueba de COVID-19 y deben aislarse, actualmente o en el futuro.
- Empleados que resultan positivos deben de continuar aislandose para cinco días desde el inicio de los síntomas o desde su resultado positivo de la prueba, lo que ocurra primero. Volverán a trabajar con el uso de cubrebocas despues de ese periodo de aislamiento, suponiendo que puedan aislarse mientras almuerzan y estén asintomáticos. Esto incluye estar libre de fiebre durante 24 horas sin el uso de medicamentos para reducir la fiebre.
- Nuestras escuelas continuarán comunicando el número de casos positivos a sus comunidades a través de mensajes de correo electrónico en toda la escuela y notificaremos al VDH de cualquier brote que ocurra en nuestros edificios.
- Continuaremos monitoreando de cerca el impacto del COVID-19 en los edificios de nuestras escuelas, trabajaremos con las autoridades de salud pública y actualizaremos nuestro panel que resume resultados de COVID-19 para 2021-22 de forma transparente para demostrar el efecto del virus en toda nuestra división escolar.

Reconocemos que esta decisión representa otro cambio significativo a los cambios de panorama pandémica. Sin embargo, este cambio permite que nuestros educadores y personal, que han dedicado un tiempo significativo durante la pandemia al rastreo de contactos, dediquen mayor atención a la enseñanza y el cuidado de las necesidades complejas de nuestros estudiantes, así como la operación exitosa de nuestras escuelas. Desde el inicio de la pandemia del COVID-19 hace casi 23 meses hemos estado comprometidos/as con el bienestar de nuestros estudiantes, empleados/as, y la comunidad en general. Hemos colaborado cercamente con nuestras autoridades de salud pública locales y estatales y hemos hecho todo lo razonablemente posible para mantenerlo/a informado/a sobre las preocupaciones de salud y decisiones relacionadas con nuestras escuelas. Esos compromisos y esa colaboración permanecen intactos.

Como se había notado en el mensaje que compartimos con ustedes anteriormente, continuaremos con otras estrategias de la mitigación de salud, como animar el distanciamiento social a la mayor medida posible, limpiar con frecuencia nuestros edificios, baños, autobuses, y superficies de alto contacto, y revisar rutinariamente nuestros sistemas de ventilación para garantizar que funcionen correctamente (cada una de nuestra unidades de climatización tiene como mínimo filtros MERV 10 y varios manipuladores de aire tienen filtros dobles, dónde sea posible). Como lo hemos estresado rutinariamente a lo largo de la pandemia, una de las estrategias de mitigacion de salud más efectivas es quedarse en casa cuando usted esté enfermo/a. Pedimos que usted haga su parte por no mandar a su hijo/a a la escuela si está enfermo/a.

Seguimos pidiendo su paciencia, gracia, y amabilidad mientras naveguemos por los cambios de panorama de COVID-19. Les pedimos que se extiendan lo mismo unos/as a otros/as, entendiendo que este es un tema muy delicado para muchos/as y que todos/as estamos aquí por una razón unificada: para ayudar a garantizar que nuestros estudiantes reciban una educación sobresaliente y que prosperen en todos los aspectos de sus vidas. Como siempre, estamos extremadamente agradecidos por su apoyo continuo a nuestros esfuerzos para mantener nuestras escuelas abiertas y seguras.

Gracias.


Original January 7, 2022 Message:

Dear Families, Faculty, and Staff,

We hope you are well. We are writing to share an important update with you regarding COVID-19 quarantine guidelines.

As you may have seen, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recently updated its guidance on COVID-19 as the Omicron variant continues to spread. Working in conjunction with Chickahominy Health District public health officials and our School Board, we have determined the following as it relates to COVID-19 quarantines:

COVID-19 Positive Individuals

Students who test positive for COVID-19 must isolate for 10 days. The new federal guidance, which the Virginia Department of Health has adopted, stipulates that COVID-positive individuals wear a mask at all times when they’re around other people for 10 days. Given that students would be around other people unmasked in some circumstances (i.e., lunch), we are following the recommendation that COVID-positive students isolate for 10 days.

Faculty and staff who test positive will be required to isolate for a minimum of five days, assuming they are able to isolate while they eat lunch and they are asymptomatic. This includes being fever-free for 24 hours without the use of fever reducing medications.

COVID-19 Close Contacts

You are not required to quarantine if:

- You are ages 18 or older and have received all recommended vaccine doses (two doses of Moderna or Pfizer or one dose of Johnson & Johnson), including a booster dose and additional primary shots for some immunocompromised people.
- You are ages 5-17 years and have received two doses of the Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine.  
- You had a confirmed COVID-19 case within the last 90 days (you tested positive using a viral test).

You will be required to quarantine for five days (previously 10 days) if:

- You are unvaccinated.
- You are ages 18 or older and have not received all recommended vaccine doses, including a booster dose.

This five-day quarantine will be followed by five days of enhanced mask wearing, meaning students, for those five additional days, will not be allowed to participate in any activities (i.e., athletics, physical education, band, etc.) that require the removal of a mask. Additionally, please note that students who have an approved mask exemption will be required to quarantine for the full 10 days.

For household close contacts who are not able to isolate from the positive family member, the quarantine period has been reduced from 24 days to 15 days as long as the close contact is asymptomatic upon their return to school (five days of quarantine after the positive person’s 10th day).

For individuals who were placed in quarantine or isolation during Winter Break and this week, staff at each of our schools will make every effort to contact families as quickly as possible to advise you of any change in when your child may return to school based upon this new guidance. Please do not send your child to school until someone from the school has contacted you.

As a reminder, a close contact is anyone who is within 6 feet for a cumulative total of 15 minutes or more over a 24-hour period. The exception remains in place that in indoor K-12 settings, a student who is within 3 to 6 feet of an infected student is not considered a close contact as long as both students are wearing masks and the school has other prevention strategies in place.

***

We continue to take these steps and abide by our COVID-19 mitigation strategies to ensure that our schools and the treasured people inside them remain safe and healthy. That is, and always will be, our top priority.

We understand and echo your frustration with the lingering nature of this pandemic. As we hope for brighter days ahead, please continue to do your part by not sending your child to school if they are sick. As always, we are grateful for your continued support of our efforts to keep our schools open and safe.

Thank you.

Hanover County Public Schools
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