The Board of Education and administration hope that all of you have had a relaxing, healthy summer. As we prepare for the opening of schools in September, we are informing you of some updates for the health and safety of all of the students and staff. This information will also be published on our website for future review. As always, this information seems to change on a weekly basis.
The district is working diligently to keep all of you informed and up-to-date on these changes. While the country and state are still in the COVID-19 pandemic, we want to share with you the COVID19 protocols the district is using for the 2021-2022 school year. These protocols are included in the district’s Safe Return to School and Virtual Learning Plan and outlined in the NJ Department of Education’s The Road Forward guidance. These protocols are subject to change if we receive any new guidance from the N.J. Department of Health, Governor, or the CDC.
- Masks – Per the Governor’s Executive Order 251, masks are required for all individuals indoors in the district and in all school buildings, no matter your vaccination status. As we are a public school district, we must follow this Order. Masks are being mandated by the Governor and it is not a local Board of Education decision. The Order is explicit that Boards of Education and other governing bodies cannot override the Order. Mask mandates can only be modified or revoked by the Governor.
- Screenings – This year, we are not requesting parents to complete a daily pre-screening survey. We will ask that you complete a screening promise which requires parents to screen their own children prior to sending them to school. If your child has the symptoms listed below per the New Jersey Department of Health, the child should not come to school. Please inform the school principal or nurse if your child has the following symptoms:
- At least two of the following symptoms: fever (measure or subjective), chills, rigor (shivers), myalgia (muscle aches), headache, sore throat, nausea or vomiting, diarrhea, fatigue, congestion, or runny nose; OR At least one of the following symptoms: cough, shortness of breath, difficulty breathing, loss of smell, loss of taste.
- COVID-19 Positive Cases – If any student, either vaccinated or unvaccinated, tests positive for COVID-19, please report the positive case to the school principal or nurse so we can contact trace if needed.
- Quarantining – Quarantining is still in effect for ill individuals or those who test positive for COVID-19 as follows:
- Ill individuals with COVID-like symptoms who have not been tested or individuals who tested positive for COVID-19 should stay home until at least 10 days have passed from symptom onset and at least 24 hours have passed after resolution of fever without fever-reducing medications and improvement in symptoms, or 7 days with a negative test result collected at 5-7 days. (Note: If the county is at a High level for COVID-19 activity, quarantine is 14 days. There will be no testing out of quarantine. )
- Persons who test positive for COVID-19, but, who are asymptomatic should stay home for 10 days from the positive test result, or 7 days with a negative test result collected at 5-7 days. (Note: If the county is at a High level for COVID-19 activity, quarantine is 14 days. There will be no testing out of quarantine.)
- An alternate diagnosis (including a positive strep test or influenza swab) without a negative COVID-19 test is not acceptable for individuals who meet COVID-19 exclusion criteria to return to school earlier than the timeframes above.
- Close Contacts and Quarantine – The CDC has an exception for close contacts in K-12 indoor classroom settings as follows: “the close contact definition excludes students who are within 3-6 feet of an infected student if both the infected student and exposed student(s) correctly and consistently wore well-fitting masks the entire time.” Therefore, if students are wearing masks over their mouth and nose indoors, there is no quarantine required for close contact.
In circumstances where masks are not worn, such as lunches, sports, etc., the following guidelines will be followed for close contacts:
- Unvaccinated individuals identified as close contacts of an individual who tests positive for COVID-19 should be excluded from school and quarantine for 10 days, or 7 days with a negative test result collected at 5-7 days. If the county’s COVID-19 activity level reaches High, close contacts should be excluded from school and quarantine for 14 days. Note: COVID-19 Activity Levels are determined by the New Jersey Department of Health.
- Exposed close contacts who are fully vaccinated and have no COVID-like symptoms: i. Do not need to quarantine, be excluded from school, or be tested following exposure to someone with suspected or confirmed COVID-19.
- Should still monitor for symptoms of COVID-19 for 14 days following exposure. iii. If they experience symptoms, they should isolate themselves from others, be clinically evaluated for COVID-19, including testing, and inform their health care provider of their vaccination status at the time of presentation of care.
- If your child has been vaccinated for COVID-19, please send in a copy of the vaccination record to the health office so that they may add it to your child’s immunization file and it will assist with contact tracing if needed. The vaccine is not a requirement, but, it is a great way to keep your student resistant to the COVID-19 virus.
- Schoolwork While on Quarantine – Students who are quarantined will receive home instruction starting immediately. Quarantined students should also be checking their classes’ Google Classrooms daily to keep up with assignments. Quarantined students can meet virtually with teachers during the teacher’s preparation period or grade level and team planning time if they need extra help. Please email the teacher for an appointment. Unvaccinated individual who resides with a COVID-positive individual: Quarantine is required until the household member receives their test results.
If negative, the student/staff member can return to the building. If positive, the student/staff member will need to quarantine. Individuals cannot opt out of this quarantine period.
Fully Vaccinated individual who was in close contact to a COVID-positive individual: Requires testing 3-5 days after exposure. No quarantine is required, but, should still monitor for symptoms of COVID-19 for 14 days following an exposure.
We appreciate your cooperation with these protocols in order to keep our students, employees, and visitors safe and healthy while at our schools and helping us to provide a traditional school year for students. Additionally, Free and Reduced Lunch Applications will need to be completed this year as we are no longer on the extended Summer Food program.
All parents of the district should fill out these forms to be eligible for free and reduced lunch. These can be completed on a personal device or a district-issued Chromebook. If you need additional assistance, please contact your child’s school for assistance. Thank you for your support and assistance during this time.
It is greatly appreciated by all of our staff and Board of Education members.
Daniel Gallagher, Ed.D. Superintendent of Schools