Response Protocols for COVID-like Illness
Beth Mattey, BSD School Health Coordinator, and Lincoln Hohler, Superintendent, will serve as District COVID Co-Leads in positive COVID-19 cases involving students and staff members of the Brandywine School District. Ms. Mattey will work directly with the building nurses and Mr. Hohler will work with Building Principals.
In the event of a positive COVID case, BSD nurses will immediately begin investigation and contact tracing. For all non-routine cases, the DPH will be contacted to review facts and determine any additional need for required isolation, quarantine, or testing prior to readmittance.
If a positive case occurs, the following process will be followed:
We are asking parents/families to notify the school nurse if your child has a positive COVID test to help speed up the process that will contain the infection. The school nurse will review and identify any close contacts to the positive case to prevent further illness. A close contact is defined as anyone being closer than 6 feet of the positive case with or without a mask, for longer than 15 minutes over a 24 hour period.
The school nurse will inform the Division of Public Health, which will trigger a priority response from the Division of Public Health (DPH).
A contact tracer from DPH will call the home of the positive individual within 1-3 days to review additional possible “close contacts” outside of school. They will also review when the individual is cleared to return to school. The Brandywine School District requires individuals to share this documentation with the school nurse before an individual who tested positive is permitted to return to school. The school nurse will keep the district COVID coordinator in the loop for consistency of communication and messaging.
The same process applies to staff members testing positive.
Responding to an ill student or staff member
If a student or staff member develops a fever or becomes ill at school and the health care professional has reasonable suspicion of possible COVID-19 infection based on symptoms and complaints, the student will be placed in a designated area of isolation and parents will be called to pick up the student from school. Staff members will be sent home and directed to call their health care provider. While in the isolation room, the students must wear a face covering. The health care professional should wear a N95 mask and face shield while caring for the individual. Students who develop a fever or become ill at school will not be permitted to ride the bus home from school.
Students sent home from school due to illness must stay home until they have been cleared by a health care provider or test negative for COVID with a PCR test. . Documentation of clearance must be provided to the school in order to return to school. Students who test positive for COVID must present a letter from DPH indicating they are cleared to return to school.
What if my child is identified as a close contact?
If a student has not been vaccinated, they will be required to quarantine for a period of 10 days.
If a student over age 12 and older is fully vaccinated with two doses of the Pfizer Vaccine) and is considered a close contact, they will not be asked to quarantine but will continue to wear a mask in the school setting. Parents will be informed of the close contact and advised to have their child tested for COVID on day 5 and to watch for symptoms for 14 days following exposure. The school nurse will require documentation of two doses of the COVID vaccination
The school nurse may only disclose the name of the positive individual for the purposes of assisting with contact tracing. For instance, if a young student tests positive, he or she may need a teacher’s assistance in identifying close contacts.
How will I know my child may have been exposed to someone who tests positive for COVID?
Once the school is aware of a positive test result, the parents of students who are considered close contacts will be called and an unvaccinated student(s) will be sent home to quarantine. Parents of students who are not considered close contacts will be notified of the positive case with a letter home.
Please note that in such a circumstance, it is critical to maintain confidentiality of the student or staff member as required by the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) and the Family Education Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA). For this reason, school and district officials will not disclose the identity of the individual testing positive.
Depending on the exposure, it may be necessary to quarantine individual students, cohorts of students, or the entire building population to be dismissed for a cautionary period of time, allowing officials to assess the situation and determine if an extended closure is warranted.
The scope and duration of the school dismissals will be made on a case-by-case basis based on guidance from the Division of Public Health epidemiologists using the most up-to-date information about COVID-19 and the considering the specific spread in the community.
It is unlikely that the entire school will be dismissed for positive COVID cases. If an “all school” dismissal does occur, it will automatically cancel all extracurricular group activities, school-based after school programs, and large events (e.g. assemblies, spirit nights, field trips, and sporting events).
Students, parents, and staff of a school that has been dismissed due to a COVID outbreak are discouraged from gathering or socializing anywhere. This includes group child care arrangements, as well as public venues.
As per DoE guidance, school attendance policies shall not penalize students for staying home ill due to COVID-like symptoms.
Who would be considered a close contact of the person who tested positive and thus required to quarantine?
A close contact is defined as any individual who was within 6 feet of an infected person for at least 15 minutes consecutively over a twenty-four hour period starting from 2 days before being symptomatic.
We understand that there will be scenarios where, due to the nature of school activities, staff may be uncertain about whether these protocols were followed. The school nurse and COVID coordinator will always work with the assigned DPH epidemiologist, who will help the school make a determination on whether quarantine is necessary based on the available information. It is unlikely that an entire class will need to quarantine, or an entire school would shut down in the event of a positive case, unless social distancing and mask requirements were not followed.
Students who are asked to quarantine must produce a note from DPH clearing them to return to school.
What is the testing protocol for close contacts of positive cases?
The school nurse and the Division of Public Health will provide information about testing if exposed to a positive case. Currently, testing is suggested on day 5, 6 or 7 for close contacts after exposure. All unvaccinated Delawareans are encouraged to get tested at community testing sites, whether or not they’re symptomatic or have been exposed to the virus.
Brandywine School District in partnership with the Division of Public Health and Quidel, will offer weekly surveillance COVID testing in school for students and staff. Parents must complete the consent form for students to participate. The surveillance testing cannot be used to rule out COVID in someone has symptoms of COVID.
Are parents notified about a positive test in the school?
The school nurse, COVID coordinator, and the school administrator will coordinate to notify families of the presence of any positive COVID-19 cases in the school to raise awareness and encourage closer observation for any symptoms at home. Previously established processes for communication to stakeholders regarding other contagious diseases that impact schools should be followed, including protecting the identity of those who test positive.
Are there special cleaning protocols schools must follow after a positive case?
If a positive case is connected to an individual office or other space, when possible the space should remain closed for 60 minutes or more. prior to disinfection to allow viral load to settle or disburse prior to cleaning. Then, using an EPA-approved disinfectant or prepared bleach solution, cleaning and disinfecting of the area will take place.
If the positive case is associated with a classroom or other essential space, regular disinfection and cleaning will take place before the next school day.