During the past week we learned a great deal about Covid-19 positive cases in school districts and the required response by the County Department of Health, including the contact tracing process. Working with our partners at Washington County we have identified and improved communication procedures and responses in the event a positive case is identified in the school setting.
If Washington County notifies the district of a confirmed positive COVID-19 diagnosis in the school setting, the district will apply an automatic pause of in person learning and begin a period of remote learning for the impacted educational environment. This remote period may be issued for a class, school building or the entire school district based on the case. We now know it takes New York Tracers a good deal of time to complete a thorough investigation of contacts. Therefore, the pause order will be for a minimum period of seventy-two hours (three days). During this period, the Department of Health will begin their initial investigation. The results of this investigation will then determine the extent of possible exposure and recommendations for further quarantine or reopening. All communication regarding quarantine periods will be issued by the Department of Health.
It is likely that the district will be able to anticipate the impact on the educational environment and will move to communicate with families while the contact tracing process is completed. This is the message you would receive from the Building Principal or Superintendent of schools:
In accordance with a public health COVID-19 investigation, your contact information has been provided by the Greenwich Central School District to the Washington County Department of Health.
In the near future you will hear from the New York State Contact Tracers regarding a COVID-19 positive exposure. If you do not hear from a tracer you should contact the Washington County Department of Health at 518-746-2400.
Students and staff with direct exposure to the positive individual will need to quarantine by the direction of the tracers. If the quarantined person does not present with any COVID-19 symptoms then all other household members may continue their normal activities, including siblings attending school.
If your child was in an impacted environment, they will have a remote learning experience during the time of the quarantine. Communication regarding this educational plan will come directly to your child via Google classroom. Please be on the lookout for this contact.
Upon receiving this notice parents should anticipate a potential quarantine period of up to fourteen days, however that order can only be issued by Washington County Public Health.
Additionally, at the September Greenwich Board of Education meeting a few questions were asked that needed research. We reached out to our partners at Washington County Public Health and received these responses:
Do the students and employees currently on mandatory quarantine require a negative test before returning? ”No, a negative test for return is not required. If they are isolated (due to a positive test or symptoms of COVID 19 without a test) or Quarantined due to the potential for exposure they would have to fulfill their isolation or quarantine period. They would receive a written release of quarantine after completing the appropriate period and with symptom resolution.” This release letter will be required as proof that the individual has been cleared for return to activities of daily life by Public Health.
The Greenwich reopening plan includes all NYSDOH specifications for PPE, social distancing, handwashing, and thorough cleaning. Why does an exposure to a positive case in the classroom come with a fourteen day quarantine period for all exposed individuals? “In conjunction with our state epidemiology liaison we received the following response: “All of the measures noted help reduce the risk but do not eliminate it. There are documented instances of COVID infection in spite of mask use. The virus is definitely capable of spreading to people more than 6 feet away. Cleaning is an important step, but most transmission is believed to occur via airborne particles, so cleaning surfaces can only help to a point. Also, the longer people occupy the same enclosed space, the higher the likelihood of transmission , so spending extended time with a positive case is an exposure risk.”
As always, please feel free to contact your primary care physician with questions regarding COVID-19 and quarantine orders. Thank you for your patience and support as we work through this new and challenging process.