Health & Safety Memo #4
October 29, 2021
While we recognize this is unsettling and disappointing, it's important to recognize the increase in positive cases in our state and how this sharp increase impacts schools. It is now more important than ever to monitor your student for symptoms and keep your student home when experiencing symptoms.
We have decided to pause our adjusted in-person gatherings at this time, which includes Mass and morning assembly. We have also decided to pause our buddy groupings between grades. While it is disappointing to lose some of our community building opportunities, we feel it is in the best interest of our students and staff.
Close Contact Info for Vaccinated Students
Vermont Department of Health and Vermont Children's Hospital Algorithm
We encourage you to familiarize yourself with each, and reach out to us with any questions you may have.
Test to Stay
What is Test to Stay?
Test to Stay Programs (TTS) use rapid-results antigen tests and have already been adopted in several other U.S. states. In these programs, any asymptomatic students identified as close contacts can take a rapid-result antigen test before starting school for each day for seven school days. With a negative rapid test result, the student can attend school.
Are Antigen Tests Accurate?
We know that antigen tests are less sensitive than PCR tests, but when used over several consecutive days, as we plan to do, they are highly effective at identifying infectious individuals. We will only be able to accept antigen tests that are used with the school's Test to Stay program and we will still require PCR tests for those who are symptomatic for greater than 24 hours.
How long is Test to Stay anticipated to be in place? For the entire school year or until vaccinations at a school are at 80%?
The Test to Stay program will be available as long as there is a large population of unvaccinated students that would otherwise be quarantined if they were identified as close contacts. If this scenario persists beyond the 2021-22 school year, the state will evaluate all of its COVID-19 testing programs.
Can students with COVID-19 symptoms participate in Test to Stay?
Students who are symptomatic should not attend school and must always be sent home. Schools should refer to the Pediatric Algorithm for symptomatic students to determine when students can return to school. The Test to Stay program is not designed to allow symptomatic students to stay in school as there are other respiratory illnesses that should be prevented.
Can the 7-day period be adjusted in the case of out-of-school days, such as a long weekend or holiday?
If day 7 after last exposure occurs over the weekend or a holiday, the student should be tested on the day they return to school. If day 7 occurs over an extended school break of a week or more, they do not need to be tested upon their return to school. For example:
- If the last day of exposure to a positive COVID-19 case was on Tuesday, students would not test on Saturday or Sunday, but should test the following Monday.
- If the last day of exposure to a positive COVID-19 case was on Sunday, students would begin testing Monday, not test on Saturday or Sunday, but would test for the last time on Monday.
May students participating in Test to Stay participate in school-sanctioned sports after school?
Yes. Students participating in Test to Stay may attend sports practices and other after school activities on school campus as long as students from other schools are not present. Students participating in Test to Stay may not participate in practices, events, competitions or any other after school activities if students from other schools are present, even if those activities occur on their home campus.
Who Can Participate?
This program is for asymptomatic, unvaccinated students only and parental consent is required.
Please set up your unvaccinated student in the testing dashboard AND complete the consent form:
Please consider the COVID vaccine for your eligible family members. They are effective tools to safely combat a virus that has the potential to seriously affect your health and your family's health. Information regarding the vaccine can be found here.
Students 12 and up can get a vaccine at a walk-in clinic (without an appointment) or can make an appointment. Be sure your student is getting the Pfizer vaccine since that is the only vaccine that is authorized for students age 12 to 17. A child must have reached his/her 12th birthday to be eligible. If you are making an appointment online through the state website, you will only see appointments for the Pfizer vaccine. Certain pharmacies, including CVS and Kinney Drugs, are also offering the Pfizer vaccine to this age group, and some have walk-in opportunities.
For appointments made through the state website and appointments made through CVS, you will either need to:
- Make an appointment through the website or
- Come to get your vaccine with a parent or guardian who can give consent or
- Come to get your vaccine with a completed Immunization Clinic Consent Form and completed Prevaccination Checklist for COVID-19 Vaccine (find translations for the consent and checklist).
Walgreens requires a parent or guardian to be present and give consent at the appointment.
Masks will continue to be required when in the building, regardless of vaccination status.
When to Stay Home
Please remember to keep your student home if s/he is not feeling well and/or exhibiting ONE of the following symptoms: runny nose, headache, sore throat, fever, cough, shortness of breath, loss of taste/smell, nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, fatigue, or muscle aches. Should your student develop any of these symptoms while at school, we will call you and you will need to make arrangements to retrieve your student immediately.
- If your student displays any of the symptoms above and HAS been identified as a close contact with a known COVID-19 positive patient, your student must quarantine immediately. Next, contact the school to discuss the timeline for your next steps which will include continued quarantine and COVID-19 PCR testing - negative results must be shared with the school before your student's return to school.
- If your student displays any of the symptoms above and HAS NOT had close contact with a known COVID-19 patient, your child may return to school if s/he is symptom-free after 24-hours without the support of medication. If your child has any of the above symptoms for more than 24-hours, your student should obtain a COVID PCR test and not return until a negative result is shared with the school and your child is symptom-free for 24-hours without the support of medication.