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The Goal is to Keep our School Community Safe

and our students in School.



 Click here for Health Office Information & Updates


10/26/21 DESE Extension of Mask Requirement

9/27/21 DESE Extension of Mask Requirement 

9/27/21 DESE Policy on Vaccination Rate Threshold 


CDC & Mass. Dept. of Public Health Guidelines 

December 30, 2021

FAQs


I’ve tested positive for COVID-19 what do I do now?

  • Stay home and isolate from others to the best of your ability
  • Notify your contacts (those with whom you’ve been within 6 feet for a total of 15 minutes in a 24-hour period - during the two days before your positive test or symptoms began) of their exposure and possible need to quarantine depending on their vaccination status.
  • Remain out of school and activities for 5 days - the day symptoms began, or the positive test day is day zero - you may resume school activities on day 6 if you’ve been fever-free for 24 hours without using fever-reducing medications (tylenol, motrin, aspirin) and any symptoms are significantly improved.
  • You must wear a well-fitting mask over your nose and mouth around others during days 6-10 days when you are completing your 10 days of isolation. This also includes the need to wear a face-covering around other household members. If it is not possible or likely that you will wear a well-fitting face covering at home, family members who are subject to quarantine will begin their quarantine when you finish your 10 days. https://www.mass.gov/info-details/what-to-do-if-you-have-covid-19-or-have-been-exposed-to-covid-19

I’m having symptoms of COVID-19 what do I do now?

  • STAY HOME, isolate from others, and seek testing. Do not resume usual activities until you have received a negative COVID-19 test result, are feeling better, or have been given an alternative diagnosis for your symptoms from your healthcare provider. If your test is positive, follow the guidance for those who have tested positive.

I’ve been exposed to someone positive for COVID-19 what do I do now?

  • If you have received your booster dose, or you have received your second dose of Pfizer or Moderna in the last 6 months or a J&J shot within the last 2 months, wear a mask when around others for 10 days, and seek a test if possible, on day 5 after last exposure.
  • If you are unvaccinated, OR if it’s been greater than 6 months since your Pfizer or Moderna 2nd shot or 2 months since your J&J shot and you have not received a booster dose, you must quarantine at home for 5 days. For days 6-10 after the exposure wear a well-fitting mask when around others. If you experience even mild symptoms stay home and seek further testing. You may resume usual activities after a negative test result and resolution of symptoms. https://www.mass.gov/info-details/what-to-do-if-you-have-or-have-been-exposed-to-covid-19
  • The Department of Elementary and Secondary Education considers students who are vaccinated with two doses of Pfizer or Moderna or one dose of the J&J vaccine to be exempt from quarantine guidelines and therefore, they may attend school and participate in school activities.

If I use a rapid test and get a positive result, do I need to follow up with a PCR prior to returning to school and activities?

  • NO: If you test positive using an at-home rapid test due to symptoms or exposure you are most likely positive. Due to supplies and access to PCR tests, you do not need to follow up with a PCR test. Having a PCR test result is helpful for public health follow-up but is not required. If you are testing out of an abundance of caution and have no symptoms and no exposure to anyone positive and the test result is positive, it is reasonable to seek a confirmatory PCR within 2 days of the positive antigen test. Please isolate yourself from others and notify your contacts. Please let your school nurse know if you test positive at home or will need to be in quarantine after an exposure.

Back to School COVID FAQs - August 27, 2021


Can my child opt out of Pooled Testing but still have access to the Rapid Antigen Test (for symptoms in school) and the Test and Stay program? 

While the state requires the consent form to present the three COVID testing strategies as a package, we will allow families to opt out of a single strategy.  

If you want to enroll in any part of the testing program, please complete this form and consent to participate in the program. To opt out of a particular aspect of the program, such as Pooled Testing, please call the nurse at your child's school to let them know. We continue to encourage all students and staff to participate in our Pooled Testing program. This strategy is most effective when all community members partake to keep everyone safe and in school.

 

If my child is exhibiting COVID-like symptoms at home, can I send them to the school for a Rapid Antigen Test?

As has been standard practice for many years, if your child is sick and exhibiting symptoms, please keep them at home. If your child needs a COVID test, please get in touch with your family physician.

Back to School COVID FAQs - August 20, 2021


  1. What PK-12 health and safety protocols are being recommended now by health experts and key decision-makers in light of the Delta variant of the virus? 

Below, please find a timeline and summary of the most recent guidance issued by the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP), the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), and the Massachusetts Department of Public Health (MA DPH) and elected and appointed State officials: 

    • 7/19/21:  American Academy of Pediatrics (“AAP”) recommends a “layered approach to make school safe for all students teachers and staff.” The AAP’s guidance includes a recommendation that everyone older than age 2 wear masks, regardless of vaccination status.

    • 7/30/21:  In collaboration with the Massachusetts Department of Public Health (MA DPH), the Commissioner of Education released this updated guidance for PK-12 public schools.  Governor Baker spoke in support of the Commissioner’s recommendation later in the day.

 

2.  The guidance from the AAP, the CDC, and the MA DPH is inconsistent. What are the masking rules that HWRSD will follow when school opens this fall?     

    • On 8/19/21 the School Committee voted to implement a universal masking policy for the start of the school year.  The need for this policy will be reviewed on a regular basis.

    • Masks will be required for all students, staff, and school visitors, regardless of vaccination status, when inside the districts’ facilities and on our school buses. 

    • Outdoors is still the safest place to be. No masking is required when outdoors. 


  1. What is informing the universal masking decision?

    • Our goal is to keep our school community safe, and our students in school.

    • There are ongoing concerns regarding the Delta variant and that there is reason to believe that vaccinated people can transmit this variant.

    • There is no remote-schooling option for the 21-22 school year; we need to be particularly mindful of our students and families who have heightened vulnerabilities to a COVID-19 infection. 

    • Physical distancing has a more significant impact on the educational environment and learning; masking reduces the need for strict physical distancing procedures.

    • A universal masking policy is operationally and culturally easier to implement and enforce in comparison to a differentiated policy based on vaccination status. 


  1. Are there any exceptions to the universal indoor mask requirement?

    • We recognize the importance of universal masking but also understand there are places where the mask impacts instruction. If instruction cannot effectively happen outside and the educator is vaccinated and the educator is more than 6' from anyone else, the educator may remove their mask for the portion of a lesson where the primary goal is forming or manipulating sounds (learning a language, English or other languages, phonics, phonemic awareness) or reading facial expressions (social pragmatics lessons). Once the part of the lesson addressing these things is complete, the educator should put their mask back on. Open windows are especially encouraged during these times. 

    • Individuals may be excused from the universal masking requirement for the following list of reasons, per CDC guidance:

The individual:

        • has trouble breathing.

        • is unconscious.

        • in incapacitated.

        • cannot remove the mask or face covering without assistance.

    • In addition, masks or face coverings will not be required for anyone who has a medical, behavioral, or other challenge making it unsafe to wear a face mask or face covering.  A written note from a physician is required for a requested exemption.  Parents may not excuse their child from the face mask requirement by signing a waiver.


  1. Will the HWRSD continue with its pooled testing program this fall?

    • Yes, the district will continue to offer and promote a pooled testing program in all its schools. This program can be a powerful mitigation strategy when most of our students and staff participate.  Consent for testing is needed on an annual basis.  
    • The district will also take advantage of the additional testing services DESE is offering to schools.  These include “Symptomatic” Testing (for when students present symptoms in school) and “Test and Stay” Testing related to symptomatic testing (for when individuals are in close contact with a COVID-19 positive individual).
    • The district will be sending out additional information regarding our testing program and a Consent Form to all families next week.  We urge all parents and guardians to sign up their children for participation in this program.


  1. What are the district procedures related to physical distancing?  What about lunch?

Masking provides the best protection in preventing COVID-19 transmissions.  While we will continue to be mindful of distancing, we will not have specific physical distancing mandates in place.  

Weather permitting, students will be eating lunch outside at the elementary and middle level; this will negate the need for masks and physical distancing.  At the high school, there will be opportunities for students to eat outside and in the cafe.  In all of our buildings, when the need arises for students to eat inside, our schools will implement physical distancing measures as students will be unmasked during this time.  If you have a question about specifics related to how an individual school will be organizing indoor lunch and practicing physical distancing, please reach out to your child’s principal.  Given that all our buildings are different, the procedures in each school will vary.


  1. Will the HWRSD continue to require the Daily Health Check?

No, the district will no longer require that parents complete a daily health check for their child. We will return to the “Pre-COVID” procedure of asking parents to call their child in sick and provide a reason for his/her absences.  As in the past, our school nurses may follow-up with families regarding their child’s illness.

 

  1. My child is immunocompromised and in-person learning does not feel safe to me. Is there a remote option this year? 

Unfortunately, remote learning is no longer an option in the upcoming school year per the Commissioner of Education. Please refer to the DESE COVID-19 guidance issued on May 27, 2021, page 4:

"Districts will no longer be able to offer remote learning as a standard learning model. As noted above, districts and schools will be required to be in-person, full-time, five days a week this fall. Pathways that existed prior to the pandemic for offering virtual learning to individual students in limited cases will remain available to districts and schools. These include home/hospital tutoring programs due to a documented medical condition, 3 single district virtual schools, and other narrow circumstances. "


  1.  How will the masking policy impact athletics?

In keeping with our masking policy, outdoor sports will not require masks and indoor sports will.  For the fall season, this means that volleyball athletes will need to wear masks when participating in their sport.


  1. What are the current travel restrictions? Will I be able to travel out of state without a quarantine? 

Massachusetts COVID-19 Travel Guidance suggests that if you are vaccinated there are no restrictions on domestic travel, and you can travel freely. Here are the CDC’s travel recommendations for unvaccinated individuals, including a viral test 3-5 days after and self-quarantine for a full 7 days after travel. Since children under the age of 12 are ineligible for a vaccine, we anticipate that many families will have questions about the rules. For example, someone may own a vacation home in New Hampshire where they have no contact with others and the rates of infection are lower than in some areas of Massachusetts. Do we require these individuals to quarantine under these circumstances? We ask all HWRSD families and staff to follow the State’s travel guidance. Qualifying special conditions include serious family emergencies/illnesses, deaths, and custody arrangements. If you have questions, please contact your school nurse. 

Hamilton-Wenham Regional School District
5 School St Wenham, MA 01984 Phone: 978-468-5310 Directions | Contact Us | Sitemap

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