School Community Health Update

As many are aware, the New York State Department of Health in compliance with CDC recommendations has determined that schools no longer need to perform contact tracing for positive individuals.  The Board of Health for St. Lawrence County Public Health has notified us that they have now also adopted these guidelines.  It is important to note that contact tracing is not the same as quarantine and all recently updated quarantine requirements and protocols are still in place for schools across the state.  


In accordance with the updated guidelines, Heuvelton will no longer be conducting contact tracing for the majority of our known positive cases.   We will still be reporting positive cases to the New York State portal on a daily basis and encourage any interested individuals to visit the NY State COVID Report Card.  Despite an expected significant reduction in contact tracing, there may be occasion in the event of a positive cluster or high risk exposure when SLCPHD may ask us to conduct contact tracing (e.g. unmasked close proximity, high-risk activities).  If this becomes necessary, families and students will be called by school staff. 


Similarly, based upon the updated procedures, parents/guardians should self-report when their student meets the definition of close contact while out of school and is staying home due to quarantine.   In that case, we ask that you contact one of our school nurses to provide the dates of quarantine, or complete and share a quarantine affirmation form from NYSDOH.  This information will then be passed along to the appropriate building principal.  


Please be advised that all positive test results need to be reported and positive cases are still subject to isolation protocols.  Again, you may contact one of our school nurses to provide the dates of isolation, or complete and share an  isolation affirmation form from NYSDOH.

 

One of the keys to ensuring the success of this new approach is rigorous symptom monitoring.  Given the large number of positive cases in our region, the safest assumption is that we are all exposed on a fairly regular basis and should be mindful of any COVID associated symptom. Any student with symptoms, regardless of vaccination status, must have a negative lab NAAT test, lab antigen test, or two negative over-the-counter antigen tests (taken 24-48 hours apart depending on manufacturer instructions) in order to return to school. Please contact a school nurse if any additional home tests are needed and we will provide them so long as our supply remains consistent.  


The updated guidance shared last week regarding isolation and quarantine protocols, including the shortened time frames, remain in effect. We encourage families to review this chart from NYSDOH, which outlines the updated protocols, and to review the Isolation/Quarantine guidance from St. Lawrence County Public Health.


We are hopeful that this new approach strikes a solid balance of keeping our students in school while staying committed to the overall health of our students and community. We also understand that these changes may generate confusion among our district community. We assure you that we will continue to provide support as we transition to these new protocols. Please feel free to contact any administrative office or the nurse‚Äôs office if you have any questions.