School Nurse Update - January 8
Hermantown Community Schools
Happy New Year! We are looking forward to transitioning students back to school starting in a hybrid schedule over the next few weeks! The Minnesota Department of Health (MDH) and Minnesota Department of Education (MDE) have recently released several updates to guidance for schools. I have noted some updates for you to be aware of moving forward.
Updated School COVID-19 Documents
- MDH updated the COVID-19 Decision Tree for People in Schools, Youth and Child Care Programs. This document guides decision-making for when to stay home and seek COVID-19 testing and when to isolate and quarantine in various situations. The basic guidelines of the decision tree are the same, but the formatting has changed and shortened quarantine times are briefly addressed (see below for more information on this topic).
- The COVID-19 Attendance Guide for Parents and Families has also been updated. The main update is regarding the change in quarantine guidelines to include shorter lengths of time that may apply in certain situations.
- The Home Screening Tool for COVID-19 Symptoms has been updated, also with new quarantine language.
- These two documents that guide schools on how to handle positive cases in the buildings were updated with similar information as well as an update to transportation guidance, more information regarding this change below. Handling a Suspected or Confirmed Case of COVID-19: Information for Schools and What to Do When Notified of a Lab-Confirmed Case of COVID-19 in Child Care Settings or Youth Programs.
- Numerous updates have been made to the 2020-2021 Planning Guide for Schools.
Quarantine for Close Contact
MDH released Quarantine Guidance for COVID-19 back in December that included options for shortening quarantine to either 7 or 10 days in certain situations if certain criteria are met. Some of the criteria to be able to return to activity after a shorter quarantine period involve maintaining a strict 6 feet of distance and monitoring for any symptoms until the full 14 days are completed. This may be problematic to ensure that these criteria are met, so at this time we do not plan to use these options for students.
We were encouraged to see a change made to the guidelines for close contact on the bus: this is also included in the document, Handling a Suspected or Confirmed Positive Case of COVID-19: Information for Schools, page 6. The requirement to quarantine all riders and the driver for a 30 minute ride regardless of where the positive individual was seated has now been removed. The new guidance is as follows:
“Close contacts among riders (children and staff) who were on the bus with a person who is positive for COVID-19 include those who were in the same row, two rows ahead, and the two rows behind the positive person for 15 minutes or more cumulatively, unless:
- Riders are not in their assigned seat (i.e., moving about the bus to socialize with others) for the entire ride (roundtrip if applicable); or
- There is no documentation or other ability to confirm seating assignments; or
- Riders were engaged in activities that involved removal of face coverings (e.g., eating and drinking).
If one or more of the above considerations (1-3) are true, then all riders would be considered close contacts of the person who is positive for COVID-19.”
AAP Return to Play Recommendations
The American Academy of Pediatrics has released recommendations regarding COVID-19 in children and adolescents playing sports or exercising. The COVID-19 Interim Guidance: Return to Sports document includes the recommendation that after a child has tested positive for and recovered from COVID-19, they should be cleared by a physician before exercising. The Minnesota State High School League (MSHSL) oversees this recommendation for high school sports, but this should be considered for all ages of students for physical education as well as sports. If you have a child that has tested positive for COVID-19, consider consulting with their physician before they return to any exercise.
- Daily symptom screening: As we plan for returning to hybrid learning, remember to screen your children daily for any symptoms before they come to school and keep them home if there are any symptoms found per the MDH Decision Tree.
- Reporting test results and quarantines: Please continue to report to your child’s school any COVID-19 test results or quarantine status for your child. We track this information for attendance and follow the Decision Tree guidelines for when children may return to school. The phone numbers to call for reporting are listed below.
Hermantown High School Nurse: 218-626-6015
Hermantown Middle School Nurse: 218-626-6211
Hermantown Elementary School Nurse: 218-626-6111
As always, we appreciate your support as we work together to bring our students back and keep our school community as safe as possible.
Sheina Showen, RN, PHN, LSN
Hermantown School District Nurse
218-626-6015 (High School)
218-626-6111 (Elementary School)