December 30, 2021
COVID Update for Return to School
We hope you are having a restful break. As promised, below you will find important information about our return to school on Monday.
Given the rise in COVID cases just prior to and during the winter break, we have revisited our health and safety protocols to ensure we are well prepared to return to school after the break. These changes will be in place through the month of January as we continue to monitor the health situation with Newton HHS and our Medical Advisory Group.
The changes are as follows:
- There will be no large students gathering or assemblies (with the exception of lunch.) We will continue to utilize our current safety protocols for eating and will provide greater distancing wherever possible.
- Only NPS employees and students will be permitted in NPS buildings. There will be no visitors, with the exception of approved contractors and other essential workers.
- Parent/guardian meetings, including IEP meetings, will be held virtually when possible.
- Field trips are not permitted until further notice.
- Depending on the venue, athletic events will either have no spectators or be restricted to parent/guardian only. Athletic directors will be in touch with families with specific information.
- For music, theater, and fine arts performances, only parents/guardians will be permitted in the audience.
COVID Testing and New Isolation Guidelines
It is crucial that students do not return to school if they have COVID-19 symptoms, even if they are mild. Students who are not feeling well should be evaluated by their health care provider and get tested for COVID-19.
Students who test positive for COVID-19 should remain at home until their isolation period is complete. As much as possible, they should separate from others in the household. If your child tests positive in another state or with an at-home test, please notify your school nurse.
Please note: the CDC has recently updated its isolation requirements for POSITIVE COVID CASES. On December 28, 2021, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) shortened the recommended time for isolation for individuals with COVID-19. The MA Department of Public Health has adopted the CDC’s updated guidelines.
If you test positive for COVID-19:
- Stay home for 5 days.
- If you have no symptoms or your symptoms are resolving after 5 days, you can leave your home but you must continue to wear a well-fitting mask around others for 5 additional days.
Please note that the updated isolation period for individuals with COVID-19 applies to K-12 schools, but at this time the Department of Elementary and Secondary Education’s (DESE) quarantine guidance for CLOSE CONTACTS remains unchanged. DESE is updating their guidance, which will be reviewed by NPS and the Health and Human Services Department once it is available.
Symptomatic students who receive a negative PCR test result for COVID-19 or have an alternative diagnosis from a medical professional may return to school once they have an improvement in symptoms and have been without fever for at least 24 hours without the use of fever-reducing medications.
Close contacts from a COVID-19 exposure over the school break do not qualify for the Test-and-Stay program, per DESE regulations. The only exception is if the exposure is during an NPS activity. Close contacts who are fully vaccinated are not required to quarantine or test following an exposure. If you choose to test, please follow state guidance for the appropriate time to get tested. Close contacts who are unvaccinated should quarantine - read detailed guidance here.
While the Massachusetts Department of Public Health does not have specific requirements for travel, travel does increase possible exposure to COVID-19 from new people and new environments. It is advisable to check local transmission rates and travel guidance for your destination in advance as the CDC has recently updated guidance for international travel.
COVID Testing - Students
We will continue to provide symptomatic and Test and Stay COVID testing to all students grades PreK-12+. As of this email, DESE continues to exempt vaccinated students and staff from the Test and Stay testing protocol utilized for identified close contacts. While our Medical Advisory Group has and continues to maintain that resources devoted to pool testing might be more strategically allocated to other testing protocols, we will continue weekly pool testing in grades PreK-6 for now. We will continue to monitor both COVID cases and the vaccination rate for students ages 5-11 to determine if pool testing will continue beyond January.
Face Covering Reminders
Regardless of vaccination status, all staff and students Pre-K-12 are required to wear
a face-covering throughout the day (including on the bus) except while eating, drinking,
or outside. Please send your student to school with a mask. It may be advisable to include a spare mask should the original mask become soiled or broken.
The face covering should be well fitting, covering the nose and mouth. Make sure your mask fits snugly against your face. Gaps can let air with respiratory droplets leak in and out around the edges of the mask. Pick a mask with layers to keep your respiratory droplets in and others’ out. A mask with layers will stop more respiratory droplets getting inside your mask or escaping from your mask if you are sick.
As was the case during the 2020-21 school year, limited exceptions to face-covering requirements will be made for those for whom it is not possible to wear a face-covering due to medical conditions, disability impact, or other health or safety factors.
Vaccinations and Booster Shots
The federal, state, and local health organizations and advisors continue to tell us that getting vaccinated and getting a booster shot is critical to reducing the impact of COVID. Please help our school community by obtaining a vaccination or booster shot if your student is eligible. All people age 5 and older can get a COVID-19 vaccine and all people age 16 and older are eligible for a booster following the recommended time after the initial vaccine series. You can find appointments statewide at vaxfinder.mass.gov.