SOMSD Changes Quarantine Policy, Offers Virtual Instruction Option For Some Students

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From SOMSD, January 7, 2022:

Good afternoon OMSD Community and Staff:

Welcome to the 2022 school year and happy new year! As we conclude our virtual learning week, we would like to thank our administrators, staff, students and their families for their efforts, patience and sacrifices to ensure its successful execution.

The neighborhood will resume with in-person instruction on Monday January 10 and we look forward to seeing the students back in the buildings. As the Omicron Covid variant wave sweeps across the country, we have seen the impact in our local community. The COVID Activity Level Index (CALI) weekly report for the State of NJ shows that the entire state is now in the very high transmission category and that our local cases of Covid in both cities grew. For our district, in the weeks ending December 24 and 31, 236 cases were reported in SOMSD (up from 66 cases the previous two weeks). According to the CDC, the wave of infection with the Omicron variant is expected to peak by the end of January.

While the health and safety of our students and staff is our priority, we know that returning our children to school with some semblance of normalcy continues to be our collective goal. We remain vigilant and continue to work collaboratively with our local health departments and health professionals to monitor case trends in our district and community and (if necessary) will make adjustments on a case-by-case basis. Below are some key updates that are important for our community to know.

Updated isolation and quarantine guidelines:
In light of the most recent NJDOH guidelines (12/16/21), our local ministries of health as well as our district health professionals have decided to apply the revised isolation and quarantine timelines for our population. pre-K-12. [The following was put in bold by Village Green, for clarity.] We start the new year with the 10 full day isolation period for positive cases and the 7-10 full day quarantine for close unvaccinated contacts depending on testing.

  • Isolation: what this means for anyone who tests positive for Covid with LABORATORY CONFIRMED PCR OR RAPID ANTIGEN (vaccinated and unvaccinated): Students / staff who test positive by laboratory PCR or rapid test should self-isolate for 10 full days;
  • Quarantine: what it means for NOT VACCINATED Students / District Staff:
    • Close contact to a confirmed positive case: for NON VACCINATED PERSONS, the quarantine in close contact is now 7 to 10 full days from the last date of exposure (day zero). The full 7 day quarantine applies if a rapid lab test or PCR is done on day 5 or 6 and is negative; return to school on day 8.
    • Travel tips remains the same – if families are traveling with unvaccinated children (outside the five states), they must quarantine themselves for 7-10 days depending on the negative COVID test result (may use a home test) taken on day 3, 4 or 5 after returning to NJ (day zero)
    • If you are fully vaccinated (2 doses of Pfizer for ages 5-17), you do not have to quarantine yourself.
  • On January 6, 2022, the CDC released guidelines to shorten the recommended time for isolation and quarantine. The NJDOH is in the process of revising and / or updating the NJ guidelines for schools. Our local health departments will guide SOMSD once the NJDOH guidelines are issued.

During a student’s isolation or quarantine period, they will receive virtual education. Please note that while we strive to minimize disruption to student learning during the quarantine period by implementing systems for students to receive virtual educational support, these structures will vary depending on the circumstances.

Revised e-learning guidelines / Exceptions for the month of January:
For the month of january – considering the Omicron variant, which was not present at the time of the governor’s original executive decree (August 2021) -[the following was put in bold by Village Green, for clarity] the district will extend e-learning to families who care for their child (ren) at home for the following reasons:

  1. Unvaccinated students who are part of the household of individuals with symptoms and who are awaiting the result of a laboratory test
  2. Symptomatic students who have a positive COVID test at home and are waiting for a lab test result (symptomatic students should not come to school)
  3. Students who are Housework members of COVID-positive individuals, regardless of their vaccination status (this is a parent’s choice as fully vaccinated asymptomatic individuals do not need to be quarantined)
  4. Kindergarten to Elementary Children who do not have transportation to school because the guardian / guardian / parent is too sick from COVID

Parents should follow the same protocols and contact their principal and the school nurse if your child tests positive for COVID via a rapid antigen test or laboratory-confirmed PCR. Note: Virtual learners should not participate in person in sports or extracurricular activities.

We call on members of our SOMSD community to remain diligent in continuing to monitor COVID mitigation strategies. We urge our community of parents, if your child is sick or not feeling well, please keep him or her at home. Your actions will affect how our community prevents the spread of the virus. Please remind your child (ren) to take the following steps:

  • Wear a mask in indoor public places;
  • Limit their interactions to a small circle of friends and family. It is recommended to do tests before any large gathering, especially if it is anyone at high risk.
  • Keep your distance from others. Wear a mask when you cannot maintain social distancing;
  • Get tested for COVID-19 if you have symptoms;
  • Wash your hands, cover your cough, and maintain your best hygiene and sanitation.
  • The District strongly encourages vaccination; if your child has not yet been vaccinated, consider doing so.

Please visit our district’s Covid-19 testing / vaccination page for updated information on testing and vaccination locations – bit.ly/C19Test_Vaccine

Orange Sud and Maplewood School District


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