Dear Hermon Families,
Happy New Year! I hope your holidays have been filled with all things good.
This note is to update our families on all things COVID.
You are probably aware that the state has updated its Standard Operating Procedure for responding to COVID-19 cases in schools. This change was influenced by changes made by the federal CDC and feedback from school systems across the state.
The primary changes are:
• 10-day isolation becomes 5-day isolation for positive cases, a return to school must be accompanied by significant improvement of symptoms and requires 5 additional days wearing a mask both at school and in the community.
• Pool testing program remains as an early detection tool and relief from isolation
• Bus and outdoor exposure is no longer part of contact tracing but masks are still required on public transportation.
• ANY student (vaccinated or not) that becomes a close contact can remain in school as long as the school participates in universal masking and the student is asymptomatic. A mask should be worn in school/community settings for 10 days. However, unvaccinated close contacts should quarantine from the community for 5 days but are now allowed to stay at school.
Quarantine Exemptions (from the Maine SOP) Close contacts must quarantine for 5 days from last COVID-19 exposure from school and school activities and then wear a mask for an additional 5 days unless at least one of the following conditions applies:
1. The close contact (staff or student) is boosted; or
2. The close contact is a fully vaccinated 16-17-year-old student who, according to the U.S. CDC, may receive a booster but has not yet done so; or
3. The close contact (staff or student) is not eligible for a booster but is fully vaccinated; or
4. The close contact (staff or student) completed their second mRNA dose within 6 months (or completed their J&J vaccine within two months); or
5. The close contact (staff or student) participates in school pooled testing; or
6. The school is enforcing a mandatory masking policy.
Staff and students who do not fall within exceptions 1-6 above must quarantine if they are a close contact, regardless of the location of exposure.
If the student or staff only fall within exceptions 5-6, they must quarantine in the community, per Maine CDC quarantine guidelines.
Below is the test used by the school (for parents to use from home) to remain or not in isolation:
For people who are asymptomatic, leave isolation when:
- At least 5 days passed the date of the first positive COVID-19 test, AND
- No fever for at least 24 hours (without the use of fever-reducing medication), AND
- Other symptoms are improved
For people whose symptoms are resolving, leave isolation when:
- At least 5 days passed since symptoms first appeared, AND
- Symptoms do not develop in the meantime.
For people who are still experiencing a fever or whose other symptoms have remained the same or worsened:
- Continue to stay home until you are fever-free for at least 24 hours (without the use of fever-reducing medication, AND
- Other symptoms are improved.
Please be aware that before the winter break we were swamped with contact tracing and will consider adjusting notification methods based on the need.
We understand that cases are increasing in the state and that the omicron variant is gaining ground, fortunately, this variant seems to be much less dangerous to all age groups.
As we anticipate omicron coming and going, groups of superintendents are looking towards springtime, requesting metrics and changes from the state that would allow for more local flexibility and decision-making.
We have observed and are addressing significant increases in student/family/faculty stress and anxiety.
Personally, I believe that there is eventually a public tipping point between a less potent variant strain, vaccination windows, more science, and the need for human wellness in schools.
The above changes represent progress towards our end goal as we move through winter into springtime.
We got this!
cc: our last HSD Updates posting is here