CHICOPEE, Mass. (WWLP) – As students and staff head back to the classroom, COVID-19 protocols are on the minds of some parents.
Though COVID-19 remains unpredictable in its spread and mutation, much of the same practices used in schools last year to mitigate outbreaks will return this year. Reports of an uptick in local COVID-19 cases have accompanied the start of the school year.
As EG.5 is the predominantly circulating strain and new variants emerge continued COVID-prevention efforts are encouraged. When it comes to schools, several prevention practices are encouraged, though not currently required.
A spokesperson for the Massachusetts Department of Public Health told 22News that the guidelines given to schools by the DPH back in May still stand. This means the previously issued isolation and quarantine guidance for COVID-19 will not change.
- Fever (100.0° Fahrenheit or higher), chills, or shaking chills
- Difficulty breathing or shortness of breath
- New loss of taste or smell
- Muscle aches or body aches
- Cough (not due to other known cause, such as chronic cough)
- Sore throat, when in combination with other symptoms
- Nausea, vomiting, when in combination with other symptoms
- Headache, when in combination with other symptoms
- Fatigue, when in combination with other symptoms
- Nasal congestion or runny nose (not due to other known causes, such as allergies), when in combination with other symptoms
Guidance for Children and Staff in Child Care, K-12, OST, and Recreational Camp Settings:
Quarantine is no longer required nor recommended for children or staff in these settings, regardless of vaccination status or where the exposure occurred. All exposed individuals may continue to attend programming as long as they remain asymptomatic. Those who can mask should do so until Day 10, and it is recommended that they test on Day 6 of exposure. If symptoms develop, follow the guidance for symptomatic individuals, below.
Children and staff who test positive must isolate for at least 5 days. If they are asymptomatic or symptoms are resolving and they have been fever free without the use of fever-reducing medicine for 24 hours, they may return to programming after Day 5 and should wear a high-quality mask through Day 10:
- If the individual is able to mask, they must do so through Day 10.
- If the individual has a negative test on Day 5 or later, they do not need to mask.
- If the individual is unable to mask, they may return to programming with a negative test on Day 5 or later.
Symptomatic individuals can remain in their school or program if they have mild symptoms, are tested immediately onsite, and that test is negative. Best practice would also include wearing a mask, if possible, until symptoms are fully resolved. For symptomatic individuals, DPH recommends a second test within 48 hours if the initial test is negative.
If the symptomatic individual cannot be tested immediately, they should be sent home and allowed to return to their program or school if symptoms remain mild and they test negative, or they have been fever-free for 24 hours without the use of fever-reducing medication and their symptoms are resolving, or if a medical professional makes an alternative diagnosis. A negative test is strongly recommended for return.
In neighboring Connecticut, guidelines will be determined based on each school’s particular COVID-19 situation.