Updated COVID-19 protocols: contact tracing, return to school protocols

Effective Wednesday, Jan. 19, 2022, the Guilderland Central School District will use the following protocols when allowing students to return to school if they have symptoms of COVID-19, test positive for COVID-19 or are considered exposed to an individual with COVID-19. These protocols are based on the most recent updates from the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), the New York State Department of Health and local health departments.

Please know that this information is subject to change at any time. If you have specific concerns or questions regarding your child, please contact your building principal or school nurse.

One of the biggest changes you can expect is that the New York State Department of Health will no longer conduct contact tracing. This means that individuals potentially exposed to COVID-19 will no longer be contacted by their local department of health. Going forward, we will no longer be collecting information about contacts to report to county health departments. GCSD will only conduct contact tracing in a limited and targeted capacity, such as, but not limited to, exposures during lunch, certain high-risk sports or where there are reduced mitigation strategies. GCSD will continue to report positive COVID-19 cases to our community on Tuesdays and Fridays and to the New York State COVID-19 Report Card on a daily basis.

Please note that there will be situations when the need to identify close contacts is warranted due to a direct COVID-19 exposure. Particular attention will be paid to staff and students at high risk for severe disease, as well as those times and locations where there may be fewer layers of mitigation in place (e.g., classes with students who are unable to wear a mask due to a documented medical issue and/or disabilities). These situations may result in a student or staff member being excluded from school and asked to stay home and quarantine for five to 10 days.

If a student has been exposed to COVID-19
If a student tests positive for COVID-19
If a student has COVID-19 symptoms

If a student has been exposed to COVID-19:

  • If a student is up-to-date on their COVID vaccinations, as defined by the CDC, they may come to school. 
  • If a student tested positive for COVID-19 in the last 90 days, pers the Albany County Department of Health, they need to take one over-the-counter rapid antigen test. If the result is negative, they may return to school.
  • If a student is not up-to-date on their COVID-19 vaccination and has not tested positive in the last 90 days, they will be excluded from school for at least five days after their last close contact with an individual with COVID-19. If applicable, these individuals could be eligible for the Test to Stay program, which would allow them to stay in the school setting during the exclusion period. For example:
    • Day 0: Date of exposure
    • Day 1: Stay home
    • Day 2: Stay home
    • Day 3: Stay home
    • Day 4: Stay home
    • Day 5: Stay home
    • Day 6: Return to school as long as no symptoms have developed.
  • Students who are NOT up-to-date on their COVID vaccination and who participate in the Test to Stay program are not eligible to participate in extracurricular or co-curricular activities.
  • State guidance states that all individuals should wear a well-fitting mask around others (e.g., at home, in public) for a full 10 days following the date of exposure.

    If a student tests positive for COVID-19 at any time, including following an exposure, the following guidelines apply:

    If a student tests positive for COVID-19:

    • Regardless of vaccination status, if a student tests positive for COVID-19 they must isolate for a full five days. Students may return to school after day five if they are asymptomatic or if symptoms are resolving. For example:
      • Day 0: Symptom onset or tested positive
      • Day 1: Stay home
      • Day 2: Stay home
      • Day 3: Stay home
      • Day 4: Stay home
      • Day 5: Stay home
      • Day 6: Return to school if asymptomatic, or if symptoms are resolving
    • If a student tests positive for COVID-19 and took an Over-the-Counter (i.e., at-home, take-home) antigen test, parents/guardians should report the results to the Albany County Department of Health using this form.
    • In order for students who have tested positive and have had symptoms to return to school after five days, they must:
      • Be fever-free for 24 hours without fever-reducing medication.
      • Have not lost their sense of taste or smell.
      • Have no runny nose.
      • Have no more than an infrequent, nonproductive cough that is not getting worse. Students with a cough must be able to tolerate continuous mask use as breaks are not allowed.
      • Have not experienced excessive or unusual fatigue.
      • Have no persistent headache or muscle aches.
      • Have no nausea, diarrhea or vomiting for at least 24 hours.
    • State guidance states that all individuals should wear a well-fitting mask around others (e.g., at home, in public) for a full 10 days following the first day of symptoms (or the date of a positive test, if the student is asymptomatic).
    • Anyone who is moderately or severely immunocompromised should follow the standard 10-day isolation guidance issued previously.

    There may also be times when a student has COVID-19 symptoms, such as fever or chills, cough, shortness of breath or difficulty breathing, fatigue, muscle or body aches, headache, new loss of taste or smell, sore throat, congestion or runny nose, nausea or vomiting, or diarrhea.

    Regardless of whether or not there is a known exposure to COVID-19, it is very important that students who are sick do not attend school.

    If a student has COVID-19 symptoms:

    • Regardless of vaccination status, if a student has COVID-19 symptoms they must have a lab negative NAAT, lab antigen test or PCR test, or two negative over-the-counter (i.e., at-home or take-home) antigen tests taken 36 hours apart, in order to return to school. The symptomatic student should stay home for the 36-hour time period between the two antigen tests.
    • When parents/guardians are presenting the district with negative tests results, they must also present this attestation signed by a parent or guardian. Attestation forms will automatically be submitted to your student’s school nurse.
    • In addition to a negative test result(s), students must be well enough to:
      • Participate in school;
      • Not have rhinorrhea (runny nose) or cough severe enough to make mask wearing difficult or unhygienic;
      • Be fever-free for 24 hours without use of fever-reducing medications; and
      • Meet other school or district requirements to return to school after a non-COVID-19 illness.
    • If a student tests positive for COVID-19, please follow the guidance above.

    Please also note:

    • There is no exemption to the testing requirement for symptomatic students.
    • If the student is dismissed by the school nurse with a COVID-19 symptom that may be attributed to a known chronic condition, a note from the child’s doctor is required. The doctor’s note must include an alternate diagnosis of the known chronic condition with unchanged symptoms and also indicate that a COVID-19 test is not required in order for the student to return to school.
    • If a healthcare provider makes a diagnosis of a confirmed non-COVID-19 acute illness (e.g., laboratory-confirmed influenza or strep throat) AND COVID-19 is not suspected, then a note signed by the healthcare provider explaining the alternate diagnosis may be provided to allow a student, teacher, or staff member to participate in school without COVID-19 testing.

    Additional quarantine and isolation information can be found on our local county department of health website, as well as the New York State Department of Health and CDC websites 

    Thank you for your continued partnership as we work to keep our students and staff healthy, and our students in school. If you have any questions or concerns about COVID-19 testing or other health and safety protocols, please do not hesitate to contact your building principal or school nurse.

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