Dear Menands School Community,
As you are most likely aware, health and safety guidance from the state and local health departments related to COVID-19 continues to evolve. As always, we remain committed to keeping our students in school, while providing a safe learning environment for all. We also remain committed to providing staff and families with clear, updated information on the latest guidance as it relates to COVID-19 testing, quarantine and isolation.
Moving forward, the Menands Union Free School District will use the following protocols when allowing students to return to school if they have symptoms of COVID-19, test positive for COVID-19 or are considered exposed to an individual with COVID-19. These protocols are based on the most recent updates from the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), the New York State Department of Health and local health departments. Please know that this information is subject to change at any time. If you have specific concerns or questions regarding your child, please contact our school nurse, Diane Roseberger.
One of the biggest changes you can expect is that the New York State Department of Health will no longer conduct contact tracing. This means that individuals potentially exposed to COVID-19 will no longer be contacted by their local department of health. Going forward, we will no longer be collecting information about contacts to report to county health departments.
We will, however, continue our due diligence with regard to notifying impacted staff and families if we learn about a positive case. In some situations, this will involve a general notification alerting staff and families that there was a positive case in a particular class or setting. This type of notification will ask staff and families to monitor for symptoms, but will not necessarily result in anyone being identified as a close contact and excluded from school.
Please note that there will be situations when the need to identify close contacts is warranted due to a direct COVID exposure. Particular attention will be paid to staff and students at high risk for severe disease, as well as those times and locations where there may be fewer layers of mitigation in place (e.g., classes with students who are unable to wear a mask due to a documented medical issue and/or disabilities). These situations may result in a student or staff member being excluded from school and asked to stay home and quarantine for five to 10 days.
Based on the latest information we have received, here are the rules for when a student is exposed to an infected individual:
If a student has been exposed to COVID-19 (and asymptomatic):
- If a student is up-to-date on their COVID vaccinations, as defined by the CDC, they may come to school.
- If a student tested positive for COVID-19 in the last 90 days, they may come to school.
- If a student is not up-to-date on their COVID vaccination and has not tested positive in the last 90 days, they will be excluded from school for at least five days after their last close contact with an individual with COVID-19.
- Test to Stay, if it is applicable, will be made available on a case-by-case basis for eligible students in coordination with the school nurse and with parental consent.
- For example:
- Day 0: Date of exposure.
- Days 1-5: Stay Home
- Day 6: Return to school as long as no symptoms have developed.
- State guidance states that all individuals should wear a well-fitting mask around others (e.g., at home, in public) for a full 10 days following the date of exposure.
If a student tests positive for COVID-19 at any time, including following an exposure, the following guidelines apply:
If a student tests positive for COVID-19:
- Regardless of vaccination status, if a student tests positive for COVID-19 they must isolate for a full five days. Students may return to school after day five if they are asymptomatic or if symptoms are resolving.
- For example:
- Day 0: Symptom onset or tested positive
- Day 1-5: Stay home
- Day 6: Return to school if asymptomatic, or if symptoms are resolving.
- If a student tests positive for COVID-19 and took an Over-the-Counter (i.e., at-home, take-home) antigen test, parents/guardians should report the results to the local department of health.
- In order for students who have tested positive and have had symptoms to return to school after five days, they must:
- Be fever-free for 24 hours without fever-reducing medication.
- Have not lost their sense of taste or smell.
- Have no runny nose.
- Have no more than an infrequent, nonproductive cough that is not getting worse. Students with a cough must be able to tolerate continuous mask use as breaks are not allowed.
- Have not experienced excessive or unusual fatigue.
- Have no persistent headache or muscle aches.
- Have no nausea, diarrhea or vomiting for at least 24 hours.
- State guidance states that all individuals should wear a well-fitting mask around others (e.g., at home, in public) for a full 10 days following the first day of symptoms (or the date of a positive test, if the student is asymptomatic).
- Anyone who is moderately or severely immunocompromised should follow the standard 10-day isolation guidance issued previously.
There may also be times when a student has COVID-19 symptoms, such as fever or chills, cough, shortness of breath or difficulty breathing, fatigue, muscle or body aches, headache, new loss of taste or smell, sore throat, congestion or runny nose, nausea or vomiting, or diarrhea. Regardless of whether or not there is a known exposure to COVID-19, it is very important that students who are sick do not attend school.
If a student has COVID-19 symptoms:
- Regardless of vaccination status, if a student has COVID-19 symptoms they must have a lab negative NAAT, lab antigen test, or two negative Over-the-Counter (i.e., at-home or take-home) antigen tests taken 36 hours apart, in order to return to school.
- The school district has a supply of Over-the-Counter tests available for this purpose, and will make them available to families as needed.
- If parents/guardians are presenting the district with two negative Over-the-Counter antigen tests, they must also present the following attestation signed by a parent or guardian, which will be available as a printable form or electronically.
- In addition to a negative test result(s), students must be well enough to:
- Participate in school;
- Not have rhinorrhea (runny nose) or cough severe enough to make mask wearing difficult or unhygienic;
- Be fever-free for 24 hours without use of fever-reducing medications; and
- Meet other school or district requirements to return to school after a non-COVID illness.
- If a student tests positive for COVID-19, please follow the guidance above.
- Please also note:
- There is no exemption to the testing requirement for symptomatic students.
- Students with symptoms that are attributable to pre-existing medical conditions (e.g., migraines, allergies) and are not new or worsening do not require school exclusion or testing.
- If a healthcare provider makes a diagnosis of a confirmed non-COVID-19 acute illness (e.g., laboratory-confirmed influenza or strep throat) AND COVID-19 is not suspected, then a note signed by the healthcare provider explaining the alternate diagnosis may be provided to allow a student, teacher, or staff member to participate in school without COVID-19 testing.
Additional quarantine and isolation information can be found on our local county department of health website, as well as the New York State Department of Health and CDC websites.
- Albany County: https://www.albanycounty.com/departments/health/coronavirus-covid-19
- New York State Department of Health: https://coronavirus.health.ny.gov/new-york-state-contact-tracing
- Centers for Disease Control (CDC): https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/your-health/quarantine-isolation.html
Thank you for your continued partnership as we work to keep our students and staff healthy, and our students in school. If you have any questions or concerns about COVID-19 testing or other health and safety protocols, please do not hesitate to call Dr. Long and Mrs. Cannavo.