CANTON — Superintendent Dr. Jennifer Fischer-Mueller would like to share with the Canton School community the district’s protocols regarding positive cases of COVID-19 within the school community, and protocols for those who have been identified as a close contact or potential close contact of a positive case.
District protocols will be reviewed and updated as new information is made available. Local community spread of the disease and available resources such as testing sites will influence any modification of the protocols.
Protocol for a Student or Staff Member who Tests Positive for COVID-19
If a student or staff member tests positive for COVID-19 they must isolate at home (except when seeking medical care), monitor their symptoms and follow all other public health guidance related to the length of isolation period. They must also inform the school nurse or the COVID-19 Point Person that they have received notification of a positive COVID-19 test result.
The school nurse or the COVID-19 Point Person will then determine if the student or staff member was on the premises during the period when transmission was possible. Transmission is possible during the two days prior to symptom onset, two days prior to COVID-19 test date, if asymptomatic, or at any time during the 10 days following symptoms or test date.
If potential close contacts are identified, the district will assist the health department and inform individuals of the risk of exposure to a COVID-19 positive case. It is required that close contacts self-quarantine for a 14-day period, monitor for symptoms and regularly take their temperature. In addition, they will be instructed to contact their local health department, if they reside outside of Canton.
If the school receives information about a COVID-19 positive test during the school day when the rest of the cohort is in class, the school nurse or COVID-19 Point Person along with the building principal and/or administration will communicate the information to the community. Caregivers will be informed that the students have been identified as a potential close contact to a positive case and require immediate pick up by a caregiver. Secondary emergency contacts may be contacted during this process.
Those who test positive for COVID-19 may resume public activities after 10 days and once they have:
- been fever free for 24 hours without taking fever-reducing medications, and;
- experienced improvement in symptoms (cough is mostly resolved), and;
- received clearance from public health authority contact tracers (the local health department or Community Tracing Collaborative).
Protocol if a Student or Staff Member is a Close Contact of a Positive Case
The Massachusetts Department of Public Health defines a close contact as being less than 6 feet from a COVID-19 case for at least 10-15 minutes while the case is symptomatic, up to 48 hours before symptoms appear or 48 hours before the test date of a positive asymptomatic case. This can occur while caring for, living with, visiting or sharing a healthcare waiting room. A close contact can also occur when someone has direct contact with infectious secretions of a COVID-19 case (e.g., being coughed on, sneezed on) while not wearing the recommended personal protective equipment.
In the school environment, a close contact includes other students and staff who were within 6 feet of the person for at least 10-15 minutes in a classroom, other school spaces, on the bus or at an extracurricular activity. In addition, all students and staff within a cohort for an extended period of time will be considered close contacts as they may have been within 6 feet of the person for greater than a 15-minute period.
If a student or staff member is identified as a close contact of a positive COVID-19 case, they will be contacted by the local health department or the Massachusetts Community Tracing Collaborative.
The close contact will be instructed to self-quarantine at home for 14 days, monitor for symptoms and check temperature morning and night. If symptoms develop, they should contact a healthcare professional to inquire about a COVID-19 test.
Testing is not required by the district, however, if COVID-19 testing is performed during the self-quarantine period, students and staff should adhere to the following guidelines:
- If they receive a negative test, the student or staff member must remain symptom-free for 24 hours and follow the 14-day self-quarantine in order to return as transmission may occur up to 14 days after exposure.
- If they receive a positive test, the student or staff member should follow the “Protocol: Student or staff tests positive for COVID-19” stated above.
Additional information regarding the district’s COVID-19 response and the return to school can be found on the district website.