A few days ago schools received updated guidelines from the NJ Department of Health (NJDOH) on what could be done in regard to how to handle positive cases, close contacts and isolation.
We want the kids here, in class. We also want to make sure we're following the recommendations of the Department of Health and keeping everyone safe. And, finally, we have to factor in what's possible with the staffing and space that's available to us here in Pennsville (which may differ from what other districts can do). What follows are the updated guidelines that take all of that into account.
Pennsville School District Isolation and Quarantine Timelines (effective 1/14/2022)
Continue with a 10 day isolation for Covid positive students and staff.
Pennsville students who could return after 5 days are unable to do so due to
the requirement to wear a mask at all times during days six through ten including during outside and aerobic activities with no mask “breaks”
district space limitations during breakfast and lunch when students can't wear a mask,
social distancing requirements,
(among other issues) HIPAA concerns regarding students who are “segregated” from others due to health conditions,
limitations on available staff to supervise those students under all of those conditions.
Due to some subjectivity in determining those people that are asymptomatic or are "mildly ill"
Decrease the quarantine to 5 days for close contacts in school.
Household close contacts:
If the positive person can isolate, decrease to a 5 day quarantine from the date of last contact.
If the person cannot isolate, the guidance states that the close contact should quarantine for the positive person's 10 day isolation time and then 5 days after that (15 days total).
Another change to the guidance that should be noted is a change to the exposed close contact definition. In addition to unvaccinated or not fully vaccinated individuals, anyone who is age 18 or older who completed the primary series of a recommended Covid-19 vaccine, but has not yet received a recommended booster shot when eligible is considered an exposed close contact and should be excluded from school.
Please note that these updated guidelines would be effective today and are not retroactive. Any previous quarantines (quarantines prior to 1/14/2022) will need to be completed by the student or staff member.
I'm sure there are more modifications to these guidelines in our future (hopefully, for the better!) and we will certainly keep you informed as things change. We know that it's not easy to keep up with or deal with the effects of these determinations. However, we remain committed to providing students with as much in-person instruction as we are logistically capable of providing in a manner that is safe for all involved.