January 21, 2021
Dear Springfield Public Schools Community Members:
Thank you for your help and support as we successfully resumed hybrid instruction on Monday, January 11, 2021. Over the last week it has been wonderful to see our students back in our schools. It has also provided an opportunity to learn and strengthen our expectations, communications, and practices related to responding to the COVID-19 virus. In addition, on January 19, 2021 the New Jersey Department of Health (NJDOH) updated its guidance for health officials, and we have linked that document on our website and in the references at the end of this document.
First, we wish to remind you of our protocols for keeping you informed of critical information while also maintaining the confidentiality of medical information regarding students and staff. In the event we become aware that a student or staff member tests positive for COVID-19, we immediately notify local health officials, staff, and families of a confirmed case, while maintaining confidentiality, so that appropriate measures may be taken. There are no two cases that are identical, and each positive case must be reviewed so that the appropriate consultation with local officials can take place.
Second, although we closely screen and monitor symptoms of COVID-19 in students and staff, we do not notify families of each such undiagnosed situation. Rather, we address those situations with the individuals involved as set forth in our School Reopening Plan. Although we take all precautions with those presenting with symptoms, we are aware that many of the known symptoms are very common and can occur in many conditions other than COVID-19. Therefore, we do not provide any notification to others unless and until we are aware of a positive COVID-19 test, or unless otherwise directed by the local health officials.
Third, in order to assist us in reducing the risk of an outbreak while offering in-person instruction, we remind you that, if you, your child, or another member of your household begin to develop COVID-like symptoms such as cough, shortness of breath, fever, chills, muscle aches and pains, headache, sore throat, loss of taste or smell, or digestive issues such as vomiting or diarrhea, you should keep your child home from school and contact your healthcare provider.
Fourth, despite all the precautions and protocols we have put in place, we cannot escape the fact that individuals may be asymptomatic carriers of the virus and we are mindful of the stress involved in dealing with that unknown. Please know that we are largely dependent on staff and families self-reporting of positive cases, and we are deeply grateful for the honesty of our community members to date.
Finally, while we work to ensure the safest possible environments, we encourage individuals to maintain the practices that they feel are best. Simple practices such as removing shoes upon entering the house, thoroughly washing hands, practicing self-hygiene, laundering clothes after wearing, and washing masks after wearing are health authority suggestions (see “ABCs of Back to School” linked below).
Based on your requests for transparency and clarification of our decision-points, we are providing updates and clarifications to our protocols below. This language will also be added to our website for future reference. We hope this reminder has been helpful to you in our joint mission of keeping our staff and students safe while also continuing to provide them with in-person instruction.
1.21.20: Updated & Clarified Protocols:
Testing & Diagnosis:
1. When families report a positive test, they will be asked to share a copy of the test with the school nurse.
2. When families report a positive Rapid Antigen Test, they will be asked to have a PCR test within 48 hours to provide confirmation. They will also be asked to share a copy of those test results with the school nurse.
3. If the lab results are different, the test results will be shared with the health department to determine the appropriate requirements for exclusion/quarantine in this specific case.
Symptoms & Exclusion:
Springfield Public Schools Staff and Students:
1. Staff or students with any one of the following symptoms should not come into the school and should seek medical consultation:
- Fever (100.4 or higher)
- Shortness of Breath
- Difficulty Breathing
- New loss of small
- New loss of taste
2. Staff or students with two or more of the following symptoms should not come into the school and should seek medical consultation:
- Rigors (shivers)
- Myalgia (muscle aches)
- Sore Throat
- Nausea or Vomiting
- Congestion or Runny Nose
3. Staff and families of students are advised to follow up with COVID-19 testing as directed by the healthcare provider. If the healthcare provider recommends a test, do not return to school until the test results have been provided.
4. Individuals with symptoms may return to school after consultation with the healthcare provider, the school nurse, and the local health department officials.
Household Members of Springfield Staff and Students:
1. If a household member has any of the symptoms noted above, students or staff in that household should not come into school. The household member should seek medical consultation, and indicate this on the OnCourse Questionnaire:
a. “Have you had "close contact" with someone who is experiencing any of the aforementioned symptoms?
2. If a household member is directed to have a COVID-19 test due to symptoms or contact, the student or staff member should not return to school.
3. Individuals should consult with the school nurse regarding return to school dates. Dates for returning to school will be calculated after consultation with local health officials.
Determining Close Contacts and Classroom Closures:
1. If a Positive Result Occurs:
a. The school nurse and administration will work to identify students or faculty members who meet the definition of close contact, being “within 6 feet of a COVID-19 case for 15 or more minutes during a 24-hour period.” (CDC Link Below)
b. The health officials will work with the nurses to identify when individuals can return to in-person learning.
c. Students or faculty members will be asked to share a copy of a test result to assist in communication with local officials.
d. Siblings or members of the same immediate household of students identified as close contacts will be asked to follow the quarantine timelines as advised.
2. Quarantine/School Exclusion
a. The length of quarantine for close contacts will be determined based on consultation with the local health department, with the expectation that while the state is “Orange”, the length of quarantine will be at least 14 days. https://www.nj.gov/health/cd/documents/topics/NCOV/RecommendationsForLocalHealthDepts_K12Schools.pdf
3. Classroom Closure
a. In the event that a faculty member has been identified as a close contact of a covid positive case, the classroom may be moved to virtual learning due to staffing challenges.
b. In the event that the school can identify the appropriate staff to supervise a classroom, students that were not identified as close contacts may return to the classrooms.
c. Siblings of students who were not identified as close contacts may continue to attend their scheduled classes.
Traveling Out of State:
1. Students or staff that travel out of the state, must follow the protocols set by the NJDOH and the district in consultation with local health departments.
a. Students or staff who travel from any U.S. state or territory outside of New York, Connecticut, Pennsylvania, and Delaware and are not otherwise exempt from quarantine under New Jersey guidelines, may not return to school until they have concluded a 14-day quarantine, beginning on the date they return to New Jersey.
b. This guidance is consistent with the NJDOH language found on page 21 of the linked document: https://www.nj.gov/health/cd/documents/topics/NCOV/RecommendationsForLocalHealthDepts_K12Schools.pdf
1. The district will notify the community that a positive case has been identified.
2. The school nurse or school administrators will notify individuals identified as close contacts by phone and that notification will be followed up with a letter indicating a date of return.
Classroom, School, or District Closure:
1. Closures will be determined after consultation with local health officials.
2. Information regarding the decisions and scenarios can be found on pages 16 and 18 of the linked document: https://www.nj.gov/health/cd/documents/topics/NCOV/RecommendationsForLocalHealthDepts_K12Schools.pdf
3. If the “Central East” region is identified as “Very High” on the COVID-19 Activity Report, the district will move to remote only instruction.
4. Any circumstances that impact our ability to provide in-person learning may result in a classroom or school moving to remote instruction.
Centers for Disease Control (CDC):
New Jersey Department of Health (NJDOH) COVID-19 Public Health Recommendations for Local Health Departments for K-12 Schools: (Updated 1.19.21) https://www.nj.gov/health/cd/documents/topics/NCOV/RecommendationsForLocalHealthDepts_K12Schools.pdf
The A-B-Cs of Back-to-School in 2020
Superintendent of Schools