With school set to resume Monday following holiday recess, Greenwich Schools superintendent Dr. Toni Jones contacted families to say the district plans to tighten mitigation strategies for at least the month of January in response to quickly rising Covid positivity rates.
In her Sunday email, Jones said the vast majority of Covid positives were still originating from outside transmissions in the community.
In the week before vacation, Jones made the decision to close Greenwich High School three days early due to the sharp rise in Covid positive cases, in addition to a shortage of non-teaching staff, including custodians. The district monitors all buildings, and the decision was limited to GHS.
New Mitigation Measures
- All school sites are re-evaluating the lunch mitigation to make sure that ample space is being instituted between students when masks are off.
- All school sites are limiting individuals who may enter the building to only essential volunteers or consultants (through January)
- GHS will re-open a gym for expanded lunch space (beginning Monday)
- GHS will add a 5th lunch rotation to reduce the number of students eating at one time (beginning Tuesday)
- Aquatics class at GHS will be temporarily suspended and pool safety and other curriculum will be substituted (to be evaluated again at the end of January). This change does not impact after-school athletics.
Last week the CDC updated and shortened the recommended isolation time for people with Covid.
“The CDC and CT Dept of Public Health now support a 5-day isolation after a person tests positive, with a return to school on Day 6,” Jones said, adding that based on the advice of local health professionals, Greenwich would implement the new 5-day rule for students and staff immediately.
Any staff or student who tested positive on or before Tuesday, December 28 is clear to return on Monday, Jan 3 if they are not continuing to exhibit symptoms.
For those who test positive for Covid:
- Stay home for 5 days
- If you have no symptoms or your symptoms are resolving after 5 days, you can leave your house
- Continue to wear a mask around others for 5 additional days
- If you have a fever, continue to stay home for 24 hours until your fever resolves
For those with Covid symptoms, regardless of vaccination status:
- Test for Covid, either self-test or at a testing site, and stay home
- If test results are negative, return to activities when fever-free for at least 24 hours and other symptoms are significantly improved
- If test results are positive, isolate for at least five days, return to activities on Day 6 or later when fever-free for at least 24 hours and other symptoms are significantly improved
- Wear a mask at all times when around others for an additional five days when returning to activities
Jones said many families had asked about remote school options, but, short of an order from the Governor or through legislative action, the district was not allowed to pivot to full-remote this year.
“The Connecticut State Dept of Education has reiterated over the past few days that local school districts do not have the authority to call for district remote instruction for an entire school district,” she said.
However, she explained that when students in grades 6-12 are placed in quarantine for health-related reasons by the health care team, they should have access to watch the class virtually.
For students in Pre-K through grade 5, work will be sent home for those in district-issued quarantines or isolations.
Jones said that while Connecticut Dept of Public Health recommended contact tracing be optional so that districts could concentrate on symptomatic individuals, Greenwich Schools will continue contact tracing, with some minor adjustments.
The next Covid Tracker update will be on Tuesday, January 4.
“We ask that families let their school nurse know if their child tested positive over the break so that information is collected to help inform decisions,” Jones said.
The superintendent said that as of Sunday there was no new information about access to home test kits for the school district.
“The district will continue to work on a better testing solution,” she said. “At this time, the Connecticut Dept of Health’s Project Covid DeteCT includes all students PreK-grade 8.”
“The district will continue to work on a better testing solution,” she said. “At this time, the Connecticut Dept of Health’s Project Covid DeteCT includes all students PreK-grade 8. The opt-in program facilitates free weekly Covid-19 testing with a shallow nasal swab for students with the purpose of screening unvaccinated students on a weekly basis.”
Project Covid DeteCT, an opt-in program, facilitates free weekly Covid-19 testing with a shallow nasal swab for students with the purpose of screening unvaccinated students on a weekly basis.
Jones said consent forms for the opt in are available online in both English and Spanish, are should be submitted electronically directly to the testing facilitators.