coronavirus in schools

State Gives COVID-19 Guidance for Schools, Distributes 670,000 Rapid Tests

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The State of Connecticut is more committed to keeping schools open than ever, according to state officials.

Gov. Ned Lamont gave an update on COVID-19 guidance for schools on Tuesday morning, at a time when Connecticut's COVID-19 positivity rate has reached 24 percent today, which is a new record high.

Connecticut Dept. of Public Health Commissioner Manisha Juthani is asking school nurses to focus more on what keeps students and staff safe in schools and much less on individual contact tracing.

"The basic premise is that if you are a fully vaccinated child, you continue to monitor for symptoms even if you've had an exposure outside the classroom and you continue to come to school and you remain masked," Juthani said.

If there's a case in a particular classroom, the families of the students in that class will be notified and will follow the guidance of symptoms.

Lamont added that classrooms are some of the more safe places to be right now.

State Distributes 670,000 COVID Rapid Tests to Schools

The governor’s office said the state Tuesday distributed 670,000 COVID-19 rapid self-tests to public and private primary and secondary schools and early childcare providers statewide.

Schools and providers started picking them up from the state’s five distribution centers this morning, according to the governor’s office.  

A total of 620,000 of the tests were given to public and private primary and secondary schools and the remaining 50,000 were given to early childcare providers.

Use of tests, manufactured by iHealth Labs and FlowFlex, is at the discretion of schools and early childcare providers, but the Connecticut State Department of Education provided school officials with guidance recommending that they be used:

  • If a child or staff person exhibits symptoms and needs to be screened for COVID-19
  • If a child or staff member has a direct exposure to an individual with COVID-19
  • If a class or program is experiencing multiple cases of COVID-19, a school may want to distribute tests to all students in that classroom if they have difficulty accessing tests.
  • In addition, students and staff who have had COVID-19 within the last 90 days do not need to test again.

The governor's news conference comes just one day after the Connecticut Department of Public Health released its updated COVID-19 guidance for PreK to 12 schools.

The updates from the Connecticut Dept. of Public Health included changes to quarantine, isolation, testing and return to in-person activities.

Having Symptoms of COVID-19

Anyone who is mildly symptomatic with any symptoms associated with COVID-19 is instructed to immediately isolate at home, test for the virus with a PCR, antigen or self-test and stay away from activities outside of the home until they are fever-free for at least 24 hours and other symptoms are improved.

Testing Positive for COVID-19

Individuals who test positive for COVID-19 should isolate at home for at least five days or longer if symptoms develop and persist.

A mask should continue to be worn for an additional five days at all times when around anyone else.

Close Contact With Suspected or Confirmed COVID-19 Cases

For people who are unvaccinated or partially vaccinated and are notified that they have had close contact with someone who has confirmed or suspected COVID-19 should immediately quarantine at home and test for the virus five days after their last exposure to the COVID-19 case.

State officials said this is especially important in situations where extended high-intensity exposure may have occurred. Some examples include household contacts, unmasked social settings and athletic activities.

Contact Tracing

Conn. DPH is recommending that schools begin to refocus the activities of health staff away from the investigation of in-school exposures and instead focus on identification, early isolation and clinical management of students and staff with active symptoms that may be related to COVID-19.

Routine contact tracing of individual exposures that happen inside schools or during school-organized/supervised activities can be discontinued.

According to state DPH officials, school districts that opt to discontinue individual-level contact tracing should:

  • enforce universal masking rules inside the school
  • take steps to ensure that unmasking periods inside the school are brief and as distanced as possible
  • appropriately notify staff and parents/guardians when there are positive cases in the school population

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