SOMSD Amends Quarantine Policy, Offers Virtual Instruction Option for Some Students

by The Village Green
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From SOMSD, January 7, 2022:

Good Afternoon SOMSD Community & Staff:

Welcome back to the 2022 school year and Happy New Year!  As we wrap-up our week of virtual learning, we want to thank our administrators, staff, students and families for their efforts, patience and sacrifice to ensure that it was executed successfully.

The District will resume with in-person instruction on Monday, January 10 and we look forward to seeing students back in the buildings.  As the Omicron Covid variant wave surges across the country, we have seen the impact in our local community.  The weekly COVID Activity Level Index (CALI) report for the state of NJ shows that the entire State is now in the category of Very High transmission and our local Covid cases across both towns have increased.  For our District, in the weeks ending December 24th and 31st, 236 cases were reported in SOMSD (compared with 66 cases in the two weeks prior).  According to the CDC, the wave of the Omicron variant infection is predicted to peak by the end of January.

While the health and safety of our students and staff  is our priority, we know that having our children back in school with a semblance of normalcy, continues to be our collective goal. We are remaining vigilant and continue to work in collaboration with our local health departments and health professionals to monitor trends of cases in our district and community and (if necessary) we will make adjustments on a case by case basis.   Below are some key updates that are important for our community to know.

Updated Isolation and Quarantine Guidelines:
In light of the most recent NJDOH guidelines (12/16/21) our local Departments of Health along with our District health professionals have decided to apply the revised isolation and quarantine timeframes for our Pre-K-12 population. [The following was put in bold by Village Green, for clarity.] We are starting the new year with the 10 full-day isolation period for positive cases and the 7-10 full day quarantine for unvaccinated close contacts depending upon testing.  

  • Isolation: What this means for anyone who tests Covid-positive with a LABORATORY CONFIRMED PCR OR RAPID ANTIGEN  (vaccinated and unvaccinated):  Students/staff members who test positive via laboratory PCR or rapid test must isolate for 10 full-days;
  • Quarantine: What this means for UNVACCINATED District students/staff:  
    • Close Contact to a confirmed positive case: For UNVACCINATED INDIVIDUALS close contact quarantine is now 7-10 full days from the last date of exposure (day zero).  The 7-full-day quarantine applies if a  Rapid or PCR laboratory test is taken on day 5 or 6 and is negative; return to school on day 8.
    • Travel guidance remains the same –  if families travel with unvaccinated children (outside of the five-states) they must quarantine for 7–10 days depending on negative COVID test result (may use an in-home test) taken on day 3, 4, or 5 after return to NJ (day zero)
    • If you are fully vaccinated (2 doses of Pfizer for 5-17 year olds), you do not have to quarantine. 
  • On January 6, 2022, the CDC issued guidance for shortening the recommended time for isolation and quarantine.  The NJDOH is in the process of reviewing and/or updating NJ guidance for schools.  Our Local Departments of Health will guide SOMSD once the NJDOH guidance is released.

During a student’s isolation or quarantine period, they will receive virtual instruction.  Please note while we will strive to minimize the disruption to student learning during the quarantine period by having systems in place for students to receive virtual instructional support, these structures will vary depending on the circumstances.

Revised Virtual Learning Guidelines/Exceptions for the month of January:
For the month of January – considering the Omicron variant, which was not present at the time of the Governor’s original Executive Order (August, 2021)  -[the following was put in bold by Village Green, for clarity] the District will extend virtual learning to families who keep their child/children home due to the following:

  1. Unvaccinated students who are household members of individuals exhibiting symptoms and are waiting for a lab test result
  2. Symptomatic students who have a positive COVID in-home test and are waiting for a lab test result (Symptomatic students should not come to school)
  3. Students who are household members of COVID positive individuals, regardless of vaccination status (This is a parent choice because asymptomatic fully vaccinated individuals do not have to quarantine)
  4. PreK-Elementary children who lack transportation to school because the caregiver/ guardian/ parent is too sick due to COVID

Parents should follow the same protocols and reach out to their principal and school nurse if your child tests positive for COVID via a  laboratory confirmed  rapid antigen or PCR test.  Note: Virtual learners should not participate in-person for sports or extracurricular activities.

We are asking our SOMSD community members to remain diligent by continuing to follow COVID mitigation strategies. We urge our parent community, if your child is sick or does not feel well, please keep them home.  Your actions will affect how well our community prevents the spread of the virus. Please remind your child(ren) to take these steps:

  • Wear a mask in indoor public settings;
  • Limit their interactions to a small circle of friends and family. It is recommended to test prior to any large gatherings, especially if it includes anyone who is high risk.
  • Keep your distance from others. Wear a mask when you cannot maintain social distance;
  • Get tested for COVID-19 if you are experiencing symptoms;
  • Wash your hands, cover your cough, and keep up your best hygiene and sanitation.
  • The District strongly encourages vaccination; if your child is not yet vaccinated, please consider doing so.

Please visit our District’s Covid-19 Testing/Vaccination page for updated information on testing and vaccination locations – bit.ly/C19Test_Vaccine

South Orange & Maplewood School District

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