October 28, 2021
Dear Parents/Guardians, Students, and Staff Members,
We wish to inform you that we have recently received information regarding five confirmed cases of COVID-19 at Colegrove Park Elementary School.
Every individual with a potential exposure has been contacted and given instructions on the course of action they need to take according to the Department of Elementary and Secondary Education guidelines regarding quarantine, including self-isolating and testing. Please note that all information, including the name(s) of ill persons, regarding any Public Health investigation is confidential and cannot be shared in order to protect patient privacy.
The district has coordinated with the Department of Public Health and will follow all recommendations. If you have questions or concerns, please do not hesitate to contact the Nurse Leader for the district, Amanda Davis, at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Protocols for quarantine with consideration of vaccination and mitigation strategies, include:
- All fully vaccinated individuals who remain asymptomatic are exempt from quarantine from a possible exposure to COVID-19.
- Close contacts in the classroom where students are masked and physically distanced 3 or more feet apart are exempt from quarantine from a possible exposure to COVID-19.
- Bus contacts provided students were masked and the windows were open are exempt from quarantine from a possible exposure to COVID-19.
- Any asymptomatic individual who has had COVID-19 in the past 90 days are exempt from quarantine from a possible exposure to COVID-19.
Parents/guardians whose asymptomatic child has been identified as a close contact can elect to have their child participate in the “test and stay” program and not have to quarantine. In the “test and stay” program, students with parental consent are tested daily for 7 consecutive days using the BinaxNow Rapid Results test. As long as the student remains asymptomatic and has a negative test result for each of the required days, the student can remain in school. Parents/guardians can provide consent by participating in the COVID Surveillance Testing Program (see information below).
The Commissioner for the Department of Elementary and Secondary Education has announced the extension of the statewide mask mandate to January 15, 2022. While hospitalization and death rates due to COVID-19 infection are decreasing and vaccination rates are increasing in the commonwealth, the low transmission rates of the virus in schools are generally attributed to the use of mitigation measures, including wearing masks, weekly testing, and other health and safety measures. By extending the mask mandate in schools through the holidays, the beginning of cold and flu season, and until vaccines are widely available for children under the age of 12, the hope is to continue to have limited community spread of COVID-19 in schools.
The metric being recommended for eliminating the need for masks in schools is an 80% vaccination rate for all students and staff members in a school. While there are about 20 schools in the state that meet this requirement, the vaccination rate for Drury High School does not meet this state threshold. If your child’s vaccination status has changed, please notify the school nurse to attest to your child’s vaccination status.
The school committee had passed a policy requiring masks in schools prior to the Commissioner’s mask mandate. With the mandate extended it will be my recommendation to the committee to continue the policy until the February meeting.
COVID- 19 Symptoms
If you or your child develops any symptoms associated with COVID-19, it is important that you stay home and schedule a test to confirm your illness. Symptoms may appear 2-14 days after exposure to the virus. People with these symptoms may have COVID-19:
- Fever or chills or shaking chills
- Persistent cough
- Shortness of breath or difficulty breathing
- New loss of taste or smell
- Muscle or body aches
- Sore throat
- Congestion or runny nose
- Nausea or vomiting
In addition, if a student has any combination of the symptoms below please contact your child’s pediatrician regarding the potential of a COVID-19 infection:
Look for emergency warning signs for COVID-19. If someone is showing any of these signs, seek emergency medical care immediately:
- Trouble breathing
- Persistent pain or pressure in the chest
- New confusion
- Inability to wake or stay awake
- Bluish lips or face
Call your medical provider for any other symptoms that are severe or concerning to you.
Students 12 years old and older can be vaccinated. If the student is under the age of 18, they must have a parent or guardian present to authorize the vaccination. Northern Berkshire Pediatrics patients can obtain vaccination appointments by calling the office (413-663-8365). Those who are not Northern Berkshire Pediatrics patients can of course still be vaccinated, these individuals can obtain a vaccination at any of the sites located throughout the state including the CVS pharmacy.
COVID Surveillance Testing
North Adams Public Schools has implemented a voluntary free weekly COVID-19 testing program to help keep our staff, students and community safe and help prevent the spread of COVID-19. Regular COVID-19 testing of students and staff will help us lower the risk of the disease in our school by finding and isolating individuals who have COVID-19 quickly, even before, or if , they show symptoms. The weekly COVID-19 testing program is just another way we are striving to keep our school environment safe for everyone. Please provide consent for your child to participate in this valuable program. You need to provide an updated consent for the 2021-2022 school year, even if your child participated in the testing program during the 2020-2021 school year.
The consent form is available on the district website at https://www.napsk12.org/page/c....
Stay safe by remembering to wear your masks indoors and to wash your hands often!
Dr. Barbara Malkas
Superintendent of North Adams Public Schools