Response Protocols for COVID-like Illness
Beth Mattey, Lead Nurse, 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 nurse, and Mr. Hohler will work with the building administrative team.
In the event of a positive COVID case, the Division of Public Health (DPH) will assign an epidemiologist to support case investigation and contact tracing. The data gathered by the DPH will be used to determine if other students or staff should be quarantined or tested.
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 call the dedicated line for schools, 888-295-5156 to speak to an epidemiologist who will then be assigned to the case. Schools will trigger a priority response from the Division of Public Health (DPH).
If DPH learns of the case, an epidemiologist will be assigned to the case and will call the school nurse within 24 hours of a positive result. DPH will identify the COVID-positive student and work with the school nurse and the student who tested positive ito identify any close contacts that need to be quarantined.
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.
The same process will be followed if a staff member tests positive.
DPH will issue an email to the individual (or a parent/guardian for a student) when the individual is cleared to return to school. Brandywine School District requires individuals to share this documentation with the school nurse before someone who tested positive to return to school.
The school nurse will keep the district COVID coordinator in the loop for consistency of communication and messaging.
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. 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.
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 in the same class(es) of the student or students assigned to the teacher testing positive will be notified of the case and informed of the Department of Public Health's determination as to whether or not classmates or those in contact with the person who tested positive case are at a higher risk of illness, If yes, parents of students in close contacts will be called and the student(s) will be sent home and required to quarantine.
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.
Classmates who were not close contacts of the student who tests positive will be monitored for any symptoms at school and parents will be asked to conduct and report daily home screening results to school officials.
Depending on the exposure, the Department of Public Health(DPH) may require 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 by 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.
Any “all school” dismissal 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 starting from 2 days before illness onset. If someone who is positive is asymptomatic, close contact is defined as 2 days prior to positive COVID test until the time the patient is isolated.
High-risk exposures refer to those who have had prolonged (more than 15 minutes) close contact with persons infected with COVID-19 who were not wearing a facemask.
Medium-risk exposures generally include those who had prolonged (more than 15 minutes) close contact with persons infected with COVID-19 who were wearing a facemask.
Low-risk exposures generally refer to brief interactions with persons infected with COVID-19 who were wearing a facemask.
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.
Students who are asked to quarantine must produce a note from DPH clearing them to return to school.
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 are not followed.
What is the testing protocol for close contacts of positive cases?
The DPH epidemiologist will advise close contacts if and when they should be tested due to potential exposure. DPH will make testing available for teachers and students who may have been exposed. All Delawareans are encouraged to get tested at community testing sites, whether or not they’re symptomatic or have been exposed to the virus. If there is evidence of potential widespread transmission of the disease at the school (e.g., two or more cases from different households potentially transmitted at the school), DPH will work with the school to perform widespread testing for the school community. This decision should be based on findings from an investigation by DPH and informed by current levels of community infection.
Are parents notified about a positive test in the school?
The school nurse, COVID coordinator, and the school administrator will coordinate with DPH to notify families of the presence of any positive COVID-19 cases in the classroom and/or 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 that can be left vacant for up to 24 hours, the space will remain closed for 24 hrs. prior to disinfection. This is best practice and will allow the viral load to reduce before cleaning takes place. Then, using an EPA-approved disinfectant or prepared bleach solution, disinfection 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.
If enhanced cleaning has been taking place, then those procedures should be continued, and additional or specific cleaning should not be necessary. Enhanced cleaning will reduce risk and should be continued.
Commonly touched surfaces (door knobs, railings, etc.) will be cleaned every 15 minutes to 2 hours throughout the school day, using an EPA-approved disinfectant or prepared bleach solution, to ensure effectiveness against COVID-19.