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WCPS Updates COVID-19 Protocol

Posted October 14, 2021

Mise à jour des protocoles COVID-19

Actualización de protocolos COVid-19

Close Contact Protocols

Washington County Public Schools (WCPS) is updating protocols for students and staff who have been identified as close contacts and are wearing masks in the school setting.

Since the start of the 2021-2022 school year, over 1,200 students have had to quarantine due to being a close contact with a COVID-positive individual during the school day. Several students have had to quarantine more than once.

Throughout the COVID-19 pandemic, WCPS has recognized the value of in-person instruction for student success and achievement. It is a priority to keep our students safely in school so that we can provide them the highest quality education.

Effective October 14, 2021, students and staff who are identified as a close contact in the school setting and are correctly wearing masks may continue to attend school as long as they are not experiencing any COVID-19 symptoms.

Parents/guardians and employees will still be contacted by a member of the COVID-19 Response Team when an individual is identified as a close contact. If parents choose to keep their child home from school, they should notify the school for the absence to be excused.

Close Contact Exceptions:

  • Unvaccinated students/staff who are identified as a close contact in a situation where they are not masked, at the time of the exposure, will be required to quarantine (for example: lunch, athletics). Affected students/staff may test on or after day five (5) from exposure, and with a negative result may return after day seven (7). Those choosing not to test must quarantine for ten (10) days. Individuals returning to school must continue to wear a mask.
  • Students/staff with mask exemptions or individuals who do not consistently wear a mask will be required to quarantine for fourteen (14) days regardless of vaccination status.
  • Vaccinated and unvaccinated close contacts who are experiencing symptoms of COVID-19 will be required to quarantine pending a negative test result or an alternate diagnosis from a licensed physician.

Please note these updated protocols only apply to close contacts in the school setting, which includes time on school buses. It is helpful for parents to encourage their children to wear their face covering consistently over their mouth and nose while on school buses and throughout the school day to avoid quarantines.

If students or staff are directed to quarantine by the health department due to being a close contact to an individual in your immediate household, or during an event or activity outside of school, those individuals should not attend school, notify the COVID-19 Response Team, and follow the quarantine directions given by the health department.

As long as there are cases of COVID-19 in Washington County, there will continue to be positive cases in our schools. It is impossible to eliminate all risks in our educational setting. Families of students and WCPS staff should make the best decision for their personal circumstances if they are identified as a close contact.

With multiple strategies in place to prevent the spread of COVID-19, WCPS is committed to promoting a healthy learning environment and keeping as many of our students learning in person. WCPS continues to use enhanced cleaning protocols and air purifiers in classrooms, and all students are encouraged to wash their hands throughout the day and use sanitizer as needed. WCPS will remain in compliance with the State’s regulation requiring all individuals to wear face coverings in schools.

COVID-19 Testing in Schools

If a student or staff member is experiencing any symptom of COVID-19 in school, the individual may be asked to report to the health room. Health room staff will assess the individual and may contact a parent/guardian to pick up a child who is symptomatic.

Symptoms of COVID-19 include:

  • Temperature of 100.4 degrees Fahrenheit or greater
  • Cough
  • Difficulty breathing and/or shortness of breath
  • Diarrhea/vomiting
  • New loss of taste and/or smell
  • Sore throat
  • New onset of severe headache

COVID-19 tests can be administered to both students and staff in school. Even if a parent/guardian has already given written consent for their child to be tested in school, school or health room staff will contact the parent before giving the test.

WCPS school health staff is using rapid tests, and results are obtained within fifteen minutes. If a student or staff member tests negative, they may be able to return to the classroom based on their specific symptoms. If a student or staff member tests positive, they will leave school. Students must be picked up within 30 minutes.

As challenges continue to arise through the pandemic, WCPS will address them with the best interests of students in mind. Plans and protocols will be adjusted as necessary to respond to these needs. WCPS appreciates the cooperation of our learning community through these changes.