Despite COVID outbreak, CT relaxes school quarantine rules as most students return on Monday

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Despite a skyrocketing increase in COVID-19 cases over the holidays, Connecticut public school students are returning on Monday under new state guidelines that relax quarantine requirements and move away from contact tracing.

The State Department of Public Health on Friday released new guidelines that are in line with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention guidelines that reduce recommended quarantines from half to five days, while suggesting the person wear a mask when she is around others for the next five days.

At least one large Connecticut school district told parents over the weekend it would not follow the latest state guidelines, citing the high rate of COVID cases in the community.


“With this information in mind, Norwalk Public Schools will maintain most of our current health protocols until January,” school officials wrote in a message to families. “Quarantine procedures will remain unchanged, with people who test positive to be isolated at home for 10 days. “

Other school districts, including Darien, Wilton and Amity Regional, will have openings delayed by two hours on Monday to give teachers and staff more time to prepare for the arrival of students, officials said.

Stratford schools will be closed Monday and Tuesday due to the number of employees “impacted by exposure” and the high positivity rate, the superintendent said.

In Westport, schools will be closed on Monday so officials can discuss how they will deal with COVID cases in the future.

New state guidelines require fully vaccinated students and staff with symptoms of COVID-19 to self-isolate at home, but they can return to school if they are negative, without fever for 24 hours and “the other symptoms are greatly improved”.

If they test positive, they must self-isolate at home for five days and resume “normal activities” on day six, but wear a mask until day 10, according to state guidelines.

For students and staff who are not fully vaccinated and show symptoms of COVID-19, they should self-isolate at home for five days, and if they are negative, return on the sixth day if they have not. no more fever for 24 hours, according to state guidelines. bed.

For fully immunized students and staff who have no symptoms, but have been alerted as close contact with someone who has tested positive, they should “continue learning in person,” state guidelines say. They should also get tested for COVID five days after exposure and “consider quarantining themselves for five days for other activities outside of school, particularly if they are told of prolonged exposure to high. intensity “, according to state guidelines.

DPH is also advising local school districts to stop focusing on identifying potential contacts when someone contracts the virus.

“Because individual-level contact tracing is a tool that becomes less effective when levels of community transmission are high, DPH recommends that schools begin to refocus the activities of health personnel away from investigating risk exposures. relatively low in school and towards the identification, early isolation and clinical management of students and staff with active symptoms that could be related to COVID-19, ”the department said in the guide.

Students and staff are still required to wear masks indoors until at least mid-February under an executive order issued by Governor Ned Lamont.

The latest guidelines come amid a record increase in COVID-19 cases in Connecticut. When the state’s most recent data was released on Thursday, the daily infection rate was 20.33% and the overnight increases in COVID-19 cases were the highest since the start of the pandemic.

As schools prepare to return from Monday vacation, some are already facing a high number of COVID cases.

In a message to families on Sunday evening, Stratford Superintendent Uyi E. Osunde said the number of affected staff “compromises our ability in virtually all of our schools to effectively run the school” to start the week. .

The All Saints Catholic School in Norwalk will also be closed on Monday after officials said “numerous cases of COVID” were reported to them on Sunday.

In Darien, Superintendent Alan Addley said the district would use a two-hour deadline Monday for teachers to prepare for distance and in-person learning “given the expected but undetermined number of students to quarantine” .

Before the holidays, cases in Connecticut schools were the highest for the entire year. In the week to December 22, Connecticut reported 734 cases of COVID among staff, down from a low of 94 at the end of October, and 3,634 cases among students, from a low of 495 at the end of October.

The increasing rate of cases is prompting schools to return to distance learning. However, the state no longer counts those days in the 180-day requirement for the school year, and it would take a Lamont decree to allow broad distance learning.

“Local union presidents have completed a survey of district protocols, and while we do not have absolute agreement on every issue, it appears most prefer a remote option, without double instruction,” wrote the Connecticut Education Association president Kate Dias in an email to Members Thursday.


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