In the past several days, our division has received questions regarding the process for contact tracing and our instructional plan for any students who are required to quarantine as a result of being a close contact with an individual with a confirmed case of COVID-19. I hope this provides some clarity to the questions you may have about these topics.
What happens when there is a case of COVID-19 at my child’s school?
As soon as our staff are notified of a positive case, our team of administrators and school nurses begins contact tracing. The contact tracing procedure involves interviewing the person who has COVID-19, reviewing seating charts and bus charts, and interviewing others as needed to help identify all individuals who may have had prolonged or sustained exposure to the person who was sick. This process takes many hours. After close contacts have been identified, members of our administrative team notify parents/guardians of all close contacts. Unvaccinated close contacts and fully vaccinated close contacts with symptoms are required by the Virginia Department of Health (VDH) to quarantine. Our school-based team consults with the Chickahominy Health District throughout this process. After the contact tracing process concludes, school personnel notify all close contacts and their parents about the case.
What is a close contact?
Through the contact tracing process, an individual is considered a close contact if they have been within 6 feet of an individual with COVID-19 for greater than 15 minutes over a 24-hour period. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has issued an exception to the close contact definition for indoor K-12 settings. 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. This exception does not apply to teachers, staff, or other adults in indoor k-12 settings.
What if my child is fully vaccinated?
Individuals who have been identified as a “close contact” are required to quarantine. However, in most cases, fully vaccinated individuals (i.e., individuals who have received both doses of the vaccine and more than 2 weeks have passed since the second dose) and individuals who have had COVID within the past 90 days DO NOT have to quarantine unless they are symptomatic.
Why does my child have to still quarantine if masks are required?
In many cases, we have arranged our classrooms and instructional spaces to maintain at least 3 feet of distance among students. As mentioned in previous communications, we have welcomed back 99.5% of our student population. With almost all of our students back in our classrooms, we are not always able to maintain 3 feet of physical distancing between students. Additionally, we are unable to maintain 3 feet of physical distancing on our buses. At lunch and snack time, students are not wearing masks, and, due to spacing challenges, we are not able to maintain 6 feet of physical distancing between students while they are eating. Therefore, if a student tests positive for COVID-19 during the contact tracing procedure we will be identifying close contacts who were within a 6-foot radius of the infected student at meal times.
Can my child be quarantined less than 14 days if they are identified as a close contact?
If an individual is not able to stay home for 14 days and does not have symptoms, they may leave home earlier:
after 10 days without testing; or
after 7 days with a negative PCR or antigen test performed on or after Day 5.
Early release from quarantine can only be determined and approved by the Chickahominy Health District.
If requesting early release with a negative test:
Email firstname.lastname@example.org (the inbox is monitored daily) and request an encrypted email so you can reply securely. Submit you/your child's negative lab result (*never send private health information in an unsecured email) OR
Ask your healthcare provider to fax the negative lab result to the Chickahominy Health District at 804-365-4362. Use “C/O Chickahominy COVID-19 School Team.”
A health district contact tracer will review the lab results and make an end-of-quarantine decision in conjunction with the health district epidemiologist based on you/your child's specific exposure situation, symptoms, if any, and lab results, if applicable.
If you/your child meets the criteria for release, your contact tracer will email or mail you an End of Quarantine Letter, and can also send it to you/your child’s school if needed via email or fax. All persons will be required to provide an End of Quarantine Letter, no matter the quarantine length.
Upon the school/daycare’s receipt of the End of Quarantine Letter, you/your child may return to school/daycare on the specified date of return.
Questions? Call (804) 365-3240 or email email@example.com
What does my child do for school work if they are quarantined?
Our division has near-term instructional plans for students who are required to quarantine and are now quickly working to develop more long-term solutions.
At this time, if a student is required to quarantine for any period of time that results in missed in-person instruction:
- Asynchronous schoolwork designed to sustain learning will be made available by teachers to the student/family within 2 school days of the start of the quarantine period. Some examples of asynchronous assignments are paper copies of work, assignments on platforms such as Khan Academy, and activities made available on Seesaw, Schoology, or Canvas.
- Teachers of a quarantined student will make a good faith effort to check in with that student during the quarantine period.
- School teams will work together to support students returning from quarantine, including consideration of the following:
- providing supplemental instruction (i.e. Bulldog block),
- extended time for the completion of assignments,
- and additional time to prepare for missed assessments, as appropriate.
This is our approach for now. Should quarantine disruptions grow in the coming days/weeks, our instructional team will communicate expanded plans aimed at providing students with more robust learning opportunities during periods of quarantine.
We remain optimistic that the need for contact tracing and quarantines will decrease in the future once conditions associated with the current pandemic improve. We ALL want to put COVID in our rear view mirror as a distant memory. Unfortunately, it is right in front of us now and we must adjust and adapt as much as possible until this is over. With the shared, common goals of safety, prioritizing in person instruction, and minimizing disruptions to student learning, we will get through this together!
Yours in Service,
Jeremy J. Raley, Ed.D.