Isolation & Quarantine UPDATE for Parents & Students

  March 4, 2022

Dear Gowanda Families,                                                                       

As of Wednesday, March 2, 2022, NYS DOH lifted the school mask mandate for public schools and other institutions across NYS.  This is a welcome change.  March 2 marked the first time (except summer school 2021) that students and staff did not have to wear a mask or face covering while at school. It was wonderful to see so many familiar and new, yet happy faces! I want to emphasize that future conditions may require a return to more restrictive mitigation strategies, but for now, thankfully, school feels more like it should feel.  

The new NYS DOH guidance contains some notable changes.  Besides the mask mandate being removed, quarantining is not being used as a strategy.  ONLY symptomatic individuals, regardless of vaccination status, are excluded from school at this point. So, if your child is sick,ill or not feeling well, please keep the child  home. This seems more like a more traditional approach to illness.  The availability of high quality masks (KN-95 if needed are available at school), vaccinations, and at-home testing have become the major strategies to combat covid-19.  

Despite the change in strategy, covid-19 is still in our community. It would be reasonable to assume potential exposure in any setting, including at school. So, continuing to follow the mitigation strategies is key to limiting exposure now and in the future. Please continue to monitor your child for the signs and symptoms of illness. If there is illness, use the provided information to determine your next steps.

Thank you,

Robert B. Anderson, Ed.D.
Superintendent of Schools

 

These are the current guidelines for the school (K-12) setting:

 

For Parents & Students:  COVID: What to do?

 

Symptoms of Covid-19?

Covid-19 symptoms may include: Fever or chills; Cough; Shortness of breath or difficulty breathing; Fatigue; Muscle or body aches; Headache; New loss of taste or smell; Sore throat; Congestion or runny nose; Nausea or vomiting; Diarrhea

 

What to do next?

  • Contact school nurse;
  • Get tested for Covid-19 (any available type); and,
  • Contact your healthcare provider.

 

When to return to school?

  • After 5 days at home or negative test or doctor’s note,
  • AND no fever, 
  • AND no symptoms or symptoms are improving.

 

What documentation is required?

  • Negative test or doctor’s note to return with less than 5 days at home to school; contact school nurse

 

*If sick or not feeling well, please stay home until well regardless of reason.

A Positive Test for Covid-19?

 

What to do next?

  • Contact your local health department to report positive test:
    • Cattaraugus County Residents call 716-938-9119 or click here to report
      • notify school nurse
    • Erie County Residents call 716-858-2929 or click here to report
      • notify school nurse

 

  • Must isolate for 5 days (regardless of vaccination status).
  • Notify your close contacts of their exposure as soon as possible. Close contacts may have to self quarantine depending on vaccination status and/or presence of symptoms.

 

When to return to school?

  • If symptoms are resolving, then the individual may return to school on day 6, with no fever, AND no symptoms or symptoms are improving;
  • Day ‘“0” is the first day of symptom onset. If asymptomatic, day “0” is the day of the positive test;
  • When returning to school, a well-fitting mask (surgical or equivalent) must be worn during days 6 -10 of their isolation period and appropriate social distance maintained.

 

What documentation is required?

 

Submit Documentation to school nurse

 

Exposed to Covid-19?

 

Exposed individuals,regardless of vaccination status, may remain in school but it is strongly recommended wearing a mask for 10 days after exposure.

 

Exposed school staff and students and/or their parents/guardians are primarily responsible for ensuring that recommended testing occurs. Schools may supply testing kits to affected families for testing at home and/or provide access to existing testing programs at the school [see Covid Testing].

 

Testing on Day 5 after exposure is strongly recommended to detect infection among individuals identified as exposed or potentially exposed

 

Whenever someone in school – student, staff or teacher – is determined to have been exposed or potentially exposed, the individual should be tested for COVID-19 as follows:

  • Consider testing immediately upon learning of the exposure or potential exposure, 
  • At least 5 days after the last date of exposure or potential exposure, regardless of vaccination status,
  • If the individual is not fully vaccinated and attending or working at school after an exposure or potential exposure, frequent testing (e.g., daily, every other day, at least twice within 5 days) from the date of the exposure or potential exposure (Day 0) through at least day 5 should be strongly considered and encouraged,
  • Exclude from school if a test is positive and/or exclude from school and test as soon as possible if symptoms develop
  • Exception: Individuals with lab-confirmed COVID-19 within the past 3 months do not need to get tested unless they develop symptoms. 
  • Symptomatic individuals, regardless of vaccination status or recent infection, should stay home until tested and if positive or not tested, should isolate for 5 days, or until other criteria are met for school attendance (e.g., resolution of fever), whichever is longer. 

 

Miscellaneous Covid-19 Information

 

Vaccination Locations:

    • How can I find vaccination information in Erie County? click here
    • How can I find vaccination information in Cattaraugus County? click here
  • How can I find vaccination information in Chautauqua County? click here

Information About Vaccinations:

Covid-19 Testing:

Covid Testing:

At-Home Covid Testing Kits: Test kits are available in each nurse’s office for staff and students who are symptomatic or feel they have been exposed. Please contact the main office for pickup if needed.  There is a ready supply and all are encouraged to use.

Follow Universal Precautions, including, but not limited to:

 

  • Stay home if sick or not feeling well!
  • Wash hands thoroughly
  • Practice cough and sneeze etiquette
  • Maintain social distance
  • Wear a mask and wear appropriately 
  • Monitor daily health of self and family members
  • Seek covid-19 testing – test kits are available via main office/nurses’ office
  • Get a vaccination

 

Distancing: Maintain appropriate social distancing to the greatest extent possible in all instructional spaces.

 

Masking:  The state requirement for universal masking in P-12 school settings ended on March 2, 2022. Decisions on masking that are more protective than state requirements may be made by local, health departments, guided by local conditions

 

Students, staff and teachers must wear masks on return to school during Days 6 – 10 of their isolation period. 

 

NYSDOH recommends students, staff and teachers wear masks when:

  1.  They feel more comfortable wearing a mask for personal reasons.
  2.  They were in the same room within the school as someone diagnosed with COVID-19 for 15 minutes or longer and were thus exposed or potentially exposed, when group contact tracing is used (see below).
  3. They are known to have been exposed to COVID-19 in any setting within the previous 10 days.
  4. They are moderately-to-severely immunocompromised and have discussed the need to mask with their healthcare provider(s).

 

Masks should be well-fitted and appropriately worn (to cover nose and mouth) and should conform to CDC guidelines for masks and respirators. Masking is no longer required on school buses or vans. Individuals who are required to wear masks in school should wear masks on school transport. School monitoring of masking compliance should focus on ensuring anyone returning from a new COVID-19 infection is appropriately wearing a well-fitting mask on days 6-10.

 

Masked and unmasked people will be working and learning alongside each other in schools. It is essential that schools establish “mask positive” environments so those who wear masks, whether by choice, expectation, or requirement, are not stigmatized, bullied, or made to feel uncomfortable, and likewise, those for whom masks have not been required or recommended are not stigmatized, bullied, or made to feel uncomfortable. 

 

Pursuant to the Dignity For All Students Act, students have the right to a school environment free from harassment and bullying. School officials should communicate mask policy changes to the local community to manage expectations School officials also should communicate about and plan for a possible return to universal mask wearing should community burden increase. 

Whenever persons are expected or required to wear masks, masks may be removed when eating, drinking, singing, going outside, or playing a wind instrument. When masks are removed for these purposes, physical distancing of 6 or more feet should be maintained to the extent possible.

 

NYS aligns with the CDC definition of close contact in schools. In the school setting, with universal masking, close contact was generally defined as less than 3 feet from an infected student if both the infected student and the exposed student(s) correctly and consistently wore well-fitting masks the entire time.

 

The exception allowing 3-feet of distance to determine exposure in schools does not apply to unmasked individuals, nor does it apply to teachers, staff, or other adults regardless of masking. This means that in settings where masks are not worn, anyone within a 6-foot radius of an infected person should be considered exposed

 

This “zone of exposure” does not mean schools should rearrange the physical footprint or space students six feet apart. 

Changes as of March 2, 2022:  

  • NYS mask mandate lifted March 2, 2022. Masks are no longer required, but highly recommended.  There is an available supply of high-quality KN-95 available.
  • Daily health screening is no longer required – monitor for signs and symptoms.
  • Daily Temperature Check no longer required – monitor of signs and symptoms.
  • Please assume that covid-19 is present in all settings and take precautions as necessary and recommended. Monitor for signs and symptoms, utilize available covid-19 test kits, and stay home if ill.
  • Future circumstances may dictate a return to the above mentioned mitigation strategies.
  • Remain vigilant!

 

Definitions:

  • Isolation is for individuals who have been infected with Covid-19, even if they don’t have symptoms. You isolate in order to prevent spreading the virus to others.
  • Quarantine is for someone who has been exposed to the Covid-19 virus through close contact with someone who is infected, but has not tested positive for Covid-19 and does not have symptoms. Quarantine is important because even before a person has tested positive for Covid-19 or has any symptoms, they can spread the virus without knowing.

 

Important Contact Information: 716-532-3325

ES Nurse: ext: 4003 & 4176

MS Nurse: ext: 5146

HS Nurse: ext: 6144

 

References:

Read the letter in full by clicking here. 

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