Covid Return to School Protocol

Covid ?? Protocol You Should Know....
Posted on 05/12/2022
Kennedy Nurse Email is: [email protected]

COVID INFORMATION (updated 4/13/22)

You should call your healthcare provider if you have any concerns about symptoms or treatments.  

This email represents the latest DESE and MA DPH guidance. DESE governs in school behavior only. 

DPH guidance must be followed whenever outside of a school setting. The protocols below are taken directly from the DESE guidance document.

Protocol A for individuals who test positive

  • Duration: Self-isolation for Covid-19 positive cases is a minimum of 5 days after symptom onset or after positive PCR or antigen test, if asymptomatic.

  • Return to school: After 5 days and once they have:

    • Been without fever for 24 hours (and without taking fever-reducing medications)

    • Experienced improvement in other symptoms.

    • Following the 5-day isolation period, wear a mask for 5 additional days when around others,   other than when eating, drinking, or outside.

  • Note: Return to school should be based on time and symptom resolution. Testing during isolation to return to school is not required.

Protocol B* (New Version) for Districts and Schools that Selected the New Testing Option to Provide At-home Rapid Antigen Tests

For districts selecting this new option, individuals will no longer be identified as close contacts by school health professionals.

However, individuals may still be identified as close contacts outside of school settings  (e.g. as a close contact of someone who tests positive for COVID-19 in their household). Individuals who test positive are encouraged to notify their close contacts. In these cases:

  • While in school settings (including for sports and extracurriculars), asymptomatic vaccinated individuals remain exempt from testing and quarantine protocols. If an asymptomatic, vaccinated individual is identified as a close contact outside of school, they may return to school. Individuals should closely monitor for symptoms and follow Protocol C if they experience symptoms listed below.

COVID-19 Symptoms List: 

Fever (100.0° Fahrenheit or higher), chills, or shaking chills 

Difficulty breathing or shortness of breath

New loss of taste or smell 

Muscle aches or body aches 

Cough (not due to other known cause, such as chronic cough) 

Sore throat, when in combination with other symptoms 

Nausea, vomiting, or diarrhea when in combination with other symptoms 

Headache when in combination with other symptoms 

Fatigue, when in combination with other symptoms 

Nasal congestion or runny nose (not due to other known causes, such as allergies) when in combination with other symptoms

At this time, fully vaccinated is defined as two-weeks following the completion of the Pfizer or Moderna series or two-weeks following a single dose of Johnson & Johnson’s Janssen vaccine.

Unvaccinated individuals who are identified as close contacts outside of school settings should stay home and follow Protocol B* below prior to returning to school:

Protocol B* (New Version): Protocol for asymptomatic, unvaccinated individuals identified as close contacts outside of school settings

  • Duration: Quarantine is at least 5 days from the date of exposure.

  • Return to School: After 5 days, returning on day 6, provided that they:

    • Remain asymptomatic,

    • Wear a mask, other than when eating, drinking, or outside, and conduct active monitoring for     symptoms through day 10; and,

    • Self-isolate if symptoms develop.

  • Note: If an individual has symptoms at the time they are designated as a close contact or within the 5 days following initial exposure, they should follow the protocol for symptomatic individuals (Protocol C). If an individual tests positive at any time, they follow the protocol for individuals who test positive for COVID-19 ( Protocol A).

  • For all those exposed, best practice would also include a viral test (antigen or PCR) for COVID-19 at day 5 after exposure. An antigen test may be self-administered and does not need to be proctored or performed by a healthcare professional.

Protocol C for symptomatic individuals: Return to school post-symptoms with optional test

  • Duration: Dependent on improvement in symptoms

  • Return to School: Individuals may return to school after they:

    • Have improvement in symptoms.

    • Have been without fever for at least 24 hours without the use of fever-reducing medications.

    • It is also recommended that individuals receive a negative PCR or antigen test result for   COVID-19. An antigen test may be self-administered and does not need to be proctored or performed by a healthcare professional. For districts participating in the at-home testing option, individuals may use their district provided test for this purpose.

    • Best practice would also include wearing a mask until symptoms are fully resolved. 

Note: So long as the individual is not a close contact, if a medical professional makes an alternative diagnosis for the COVID-19-like symptoms, the individual may use this recommendation (e.g., for influenza or strep pharyngitis) in lieu of a PCR test or antigen test. 

For any symptoms during the school day, go to the school health clinic for evaluation.

Please note: If an individual has mild symptoms at school, the individual may be considered for testing using BinaxNOW, if available.

  •  If the result is positive, they should be sent home and follow Protocol A. 

  •  If the result is negative, they should remain in school

  • If symptom(s) persist after a negative test, the individual may re-test within the subsequent 1-2 days. If symptoms worsen, the individual should seek medical care and be evaluated for the need for PCR testing. 

Please communicate with your school nurse regarding return to school dates.

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