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COVID-19 Procedure Update

Paula Sandahl

Dear Coventry Families,

Let me start by wishing everyone a happy and healthy new year.  It is my hope there are better days ahead.

This communication contains very important information, so I ask that you please read through the entire document carefully.  As I am sure you are aware, the COVID-19 positivity rate in the State has surged greatly over the past two weeks.  Since the start of our December vacation, we have been working closely with the Eastern Highlands Health District staff to monitor the number of COVID-19 cases in Coventry, which at times has been the highest in Tolland County.  Additionally, over the break, the district received updated COVID-19 guidance from the Connecticut State Department of Education, the Connecticut Department of Public Health, and the Eastern Highlands Health District related to isolation, quarantine, and contact tracing. 

Please be aware of the following changes, provided by the Connecticut Department of Public Health, which Coventry will begin following tomorrow, January 5, 2022.  

        Isolation Guidelines: 

  • Individuals who are even mildly symptomatic with any of the symptoms associated with COVID-19 should immediately isolate at home, test for the virus with a PCR, antigen, or self-test, and remain away from activities outside of the home until they are fever-free for at least 24 hours and other symptoms are significantly improved.
  • Individuals who test positive for COVID-19 should isolate at home for at least 5 days, or longer if symptoms develop and persist. 
  • Unvaccinated or partially vaccinated individuals who are notified that they have had a close contact with an individual who has confirmed or suspected COVID-19 should immediately quarantine at home and test for the virus 5 days after their last exposure to the COVID-19 case. This is especially important in situations where extended high-intensity exposure may have occurred, such as with household contacts, in unmasked social settings (e.g., sleepovers, parties), and/or during athletic activities.
  • Fully vaccinated individuals with no COVID-19 symptoms, who are a close contact with a COVID-19 case outside of school can continue with in-person learning.  They should test for COVID-19 5 days after exposure and consider quarantining for 5 days from other activities.

        Contact Tracing: Due to the suite of mitigating strategies the district continues to have in place, we are discontinuing individual contact tracing.  The thought behind this is due in large part to the extremely low number of confirmed, in-school transmissions.  The elimination of this practice will allow our school nurses time to focus on individuals with symptoms and support families who have questions regarding the illness impacting their family.  While we will continue to notify parents and staff members when we have a confirmed case, the email will now be sent on a weekly basis instead of daily to avoid excessive communications.  

       Screen and stay: This approach will no longer be in effect because it is built into the new guidance. 

It is important to note that universal masking rules inside of our schools will continue.  

The information, in its entirety, is linked in here:  CT Department of Public Health Updated Considerations for Quarantine, Isolation, Testing, and Contract Tracing Policies and Procedures in PreK-12 Schools.   However, should you have specific questions regarding this information, please know the schools’ nurses are available to assist.  The district’s Safe Return to In-Person Instruction and Continuity of Services Plan will be updated on the district website within the next week or so.

Due to the number of students contracting COVID-19, we will be allowing students access to livestreaming classroom instruction via Google Meet.  Please note that this is not remote learning, but an opportunity for students to view and hear classroom instruction directly from their teacher.  Unfortunately, we will not be able to support live interaction between students at home and the classrooms.  Any questions students or parents may have after a class session can be addressed via email.  Students do not need to have a Coventry technology device to access livestreaming as they can log into their Coventry account from a personal device and access Google Meet.  (Physical education classes will not be livestreamed; student assignments will be available via Google Classroom.) If students are too ill to view the livestreaming, tutoring support is available to any student who needs additional assistance due to loss of instruction because of an extended absence.  

The governor’s office notified superintendents this week that remote learning guidance has changed and that local departments of public health can no longer make the decision to go remote due to a local outbreak.  If necessary, the Governor’s office will make the declaration of a statewide emergency necessitating a return to remote learning.  State statute still requires 180 days of school attendance.  Only the Governor’s office can reduce this requirement through such action as declaring a state of emergency.  Accordingly, at this time, placing a school or district on remote learning is not an option.  

You may have heard on the news, many districts have had to cancel school due to staffing shortages.  Coventry schools have been fortunate to be able to remain open.  However, as we look to the weeks ahead there is a very real possibility that we may be impacted by staffing shortages which could necessitate the need to close schools.  Any days that we are required to close must be made up unless guidance from the State changes.

I feel it is important to remind families that the information contained in this communication could potentially change as situations evolve and additional guidance comes from the state.  

Finally, school districts across the state are receiving a very limited supply of home COVID-19 testing kits.  Coventry’s supply will be available on an as needed basis, as determined by the school nurses.  

Please know how much I appreciate your support during these challenging times. 

Sincerely,

David

 

David J. Petrone, Ed.D.

Superintendent of Schools

Coventry Public Schools

1700 Main Street

Coventry, CT  06238

Tel: (860) 742-7317 x2

Fax: (860) 742-4567

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