With the latest revision of K-12 school protocols on December 31st, new procedures arise regarding Public Health's changing role in managing the Omicron variant. COVID-19 Protocols for School & District Administrators and Staff: Management of School-Associated Activity.
Here is a brief overview of the substantive changes:
- There is a paradigm shift in public health response to the Omicron variant.
- The focus is now on self-management and away from testing.
- Contact tracing will shift to self-monitoring with a daily health check before arriving at school.
- Schools and parents will no longer receive exposure notifications from public health.
- Schools will focus on monitoring absenteeism to trigger closures.
- Schools will closely monitor school attendance for both staff and students to determine if the data meets a public-health-determined "potential activity signal."
- "Potential activity signal" is school absenteeism that exceeds historical school-specific absenteeism by a minimum of 10% (Health Closure)
- More than 25% of students in a grade are absent (Health Closure).
- There are insufficient teachers and staff available to open the school due to illness (Functional Closure).
- Parents and students will be notified asap, and learning will use the schedule below. Closures will last approximately seven days.
- Day 1 - transition to online learning.
- Day 2 thru 7 - At-home learning.
- Day 8 - Return to in-class learning.
- Mid-day closure could be possible to limit further school exposures.
- Parents are notified by email and phone to pick up their children from school as soon as possible.
- During a "closure," there will be no in-person support for children of essential service workers or those with complex learning needs.
- Yokefellow after-school club is cancelled during school closures.
- The school must consult with the Ministry of Education before any Health or Functional closure is implemented.
- My children or I tested positive for COVID or have COVID19-like symptoms. Click this link for full details: I Tested Positive for COVID-19.
- Self-isolation for 5 to 10 days, depending on vaccination status.
- Three conditions must be met to resume school attendance.
- The self-isolation period is expired and
- Fever or headaches have resolved without fever-reducing medication (acetaminophen or ibuprofen) for 24 hours and
- Symptoms are improving
- Continue to isolate until your child can pass the 3-condition test.
- Can siblings without any COVID-19 symptoms attend school if a close contact (i.e. parents or another sibling) has tested positive for COVID-19? Instructions for close contacts.
- Yes. Close contacts must self-monitor for symptoms for ten days from the day of the last contact regardless of vaccination status or if you have had COVID-19 previously or in the previous 90 days.
- If you have no symptoms of COVID-19, you do not need to be tested.
Happy New Year to all of you and thank you for your continued support and patience as we navigate this ever-changing time. May the Lord continue to watch over and protect you and your family.
Warmest blessings, Bernadette Pitcher