DISTRICT UPDATE 8-25-2020
MARYVILLE CITY SCHOOLS
From the Director of Schools
Once again, the primary purpose of this update is to establish our schedule for traditional learners for the next two-week period. Before we share that news and other details, we would like to review the most recent, updated COVID-19 information and address a few common questions.
We continue to monitor the active and recovered cases in our school community. Although the numbers have been pretty consistent for both students and staff, we experienced a slight uptick in our county-wide metrics. The number of active cases in Blount County increased from 0.34% of the population to 0.39% in the past week. The 14-day avg. per 100,000 population increased from 21.52 to 22.86. For our MCS cumulative student data, this week we had a total of 6 positive cases and last week we had three positive reported cases in the district. The first week of school had a total of 6 positive cases.
We appreciate the patience and understanding of frustrated families who receive a 14-Day Isolation Notice for their child who was identified as a Close Contact. We certainly hate the hardship this causes our families. While, to date, almost all of those cases have resulted in 14 days of negative COVID symptoms and that is an obvious relief, it also feels so demanding to the families who are required to quarantine at home with their child. The most expressed negativity centers around masks. Unfortunately, the health department will not allow us to use masks as a mitigating factor. Many health care professionals would suggest that IF both individuals wear masks, then the 6 feet/10 minute rule should not apply. However, the particular guideline to disallow the consideration of masks as a factor is a requirement from both the CDC and Health Department, so we must continue to identify Close Contacts regardless of masks. We hope this does not eventually lead families to disregard the importance of wearing masks, but to continue this practice in hopes our data could use masks as a mitigating factor. We are thankful for families who actively encourage students to use increased safety procedures to reduce exposure: handwashing, social distancing, and wearing masks when isolation is not possible. Your partnership in this effort is critical to our continued success.
COVID Q & A
For all COVID related decisions, the school district only provides information and assists the Health Department in Contact Tracing and the Notification of Isolation. The TN Health Department makes all final decisions regarding terms of Isolation.
Question: My student was just identified as a Close Contact and received a 14-Day Isolation Notice. On the evening of the first day, my student developed symptoms. Can he now be treated as a symptomatic individual with the option to go and get a COVID-19 test and return back to school in 72 hours with documentation of a negative test?
Answer: No, he may not. The school cannot reduce the 14-day isolation window without the direction of the health department. Students who begin to show symptoms must contact the health department to request being changed from a 14-Day Close Contact Isolation to a Symptomatic Case. The health department then labels that student as a Probable Positive Case. The school is then directed by the health department to conduct Close Contact Tracing on the Probable Positive Case and follow procedures for the newly identified Close Contacts of the Probable Positive Case. At that point, if confirmed by the Health Department, the student becomes a 10-Day Isolation Case and a negative test will only reduce that student back down to a 14-Day Close Contact Isolation Case.
Question: My student was just identified as a Positive Case. What about the other siblings in the school system?
Answer: MCS will provide the positive case with a 10-Day Isolation Notice with determined dates. They will provide the siblings with a 14-Day Isolation Notice with undetermined dates, pending the TN Health Department Investigation of Household Contacts. IF the positive case can be isolated completely from the other family members, then the 14-Day Isolation for the healthy family members will begin at the same time. IF the positive case cannot be isolated completely from the other family members, then the 14-Day Isolation will begin at the end of the 10-Day Positive Isolation, thus resulting in a minimum 24-Day Isolation. In short, the 14-Days counter begins upon separation from the positive case.
Question: My family member tested positive, but I am confident it is a false positive. What can I do to get a different result?
Answer: Obtain two negative COVID-19 PCR tests at least 24 hours apart and provide evidence to the school and the Health Department.
You will find the updated MCS STUDENT COVID-19 DECISION TREE on the COVID-19 page of our website, but also at THIS LINK. The most recent revision includes:
- TN Health Department change to reduce the wait time to be symptom-free from 72 hours to 24 hours.
- Reflection on observing and responding to symptoms to be more comprehensive – preponderance, combination, the inclusion of high-risk symptoms should be the guide to isolate for 10 days, not just the onset of COVID-like symptoms.
- Close Contact Information: The inclusion of language the 14-Day Isolation period should begin from the last date of contact with the positive confirmed individual.
HOUSEHOLD CLOSE CONTACTS
Please review the flyer below (or LINK HERE) to review our close contact protocol for HOUSEHOLDS. In a nutshell, persons living in the same household who cannot separate from a positive case within that household would have to wait and begin the 14-Day Isolation at the end of the 10-Day Positive Isolation, resulting in isolation for household contacts who can’t separate for a minimum of 24 days.
Household Close Contact Definition: Exposure to a positive family member or person living within the home during the time period beginning two days prior to the case’s symptom onset or two days prior to a positive test date if asymptomatic. Exposure is defined as less than 6 feet of distance between persons for longer than 10 minutes. The 14-Day Isolation begins when the Household Close Contact discontinues contact engagement from the positive case. For household members, an assurance of complete isolation of the positive case from siblings and other members living in the home allows the 14-Day Isolation count to begin on the same day for those other persons. Otherwise, if all family members share any living spaces during the 10-day quarantine (bedroom, bathroom, kitchen, etc.), then the 14-Day Isolation begins at the end of the positive person’s 10-Day Isolation.
AUGUST 31 - SEPTEMBER 11
- K-3: NO CHANGE - Monday through Friday, on-campus
- 4-7: NO CHANGE - Monday through Friday, on-campus
- 8-12: THIS IS A CHANGE - Monday through Friday, on-campus
Also going into effect on August 31:
- Temperature screenings in grades K-7 will be reduced to weekly checks and as needed
- Temperature screenings will continue daily in grades 8-12
- Masks will be REQUIRED on all buses. Disposable masks will be provided to anyone boarding the bus without a mask.
MCS DIGITAL LEARNERS: NO CHANGE - Continue to follow all attendance and academic requirements set by your teacher.
NEW DEADLINE ANNOUNCED ******************* FOR ANYONE WISHING TO CHANGE INSTRUCTION
In order to align the selection of instruction decisions with the schedule changes that go into effect Monday, August 31, the district is moving the DEADLINE TO SWITCH INSTRUCTIONAL OPTIONS (traditional-to-digital or digital-to-traditional) to this Thursday, August 27 at noon. Those who make a switch before the deadline will begin the newly selected instructional option on Monday, August 31. Any requests received after the deadline will apply to the next opportunity to switch.
The next opportunity to switch will be September 30 (with the new instructional option beginning after fall break, starting on October 14).
As shared in July, the district is requesting that families limit changing instructional options to one switch for the entire school year.
To request a switch, please call your school.
We will follow our operational plan to implement a consistent onsite school schedule
in two-week intervals.
We will announce the attendance plans for September 14- 25
by Wednesday, September 9.