The last couple of years really has been a whole new world. We have all found ourselves in situations that no one would have ever contemplated pre-pandemic. The ever-changing world during a pandemic can feel overwhelming, confusing, and scary as information changes or evolves. As we learned more about COVID-19 our day to day has changed as well. The way that things were done last year and the policies that were followed have changed and adapted as well, at national, state, and school levels. One question that has come up recently, due to the positive cases in our school, has been how we contact trace. When there is a positive case within our school we have steps and guidelines that we are following to identify who within our community may be considered a close contact. Our guidelines come directly from the Vermont Department of Health (VTDH). When we have a positive case we immediately report it to the VTDH who will then reach out to the COVID positive individual to contact trace within the greater community.
While the VTDH is responsible for contact tracing outside of school, we are responsible for contact tracing in school. We do this by speaking to staff who were working with or supervising the COVID positive individual, and follow The COVID-19 Framework for Assessing High-Risk Activities in K-12 School Settings to “contact trace” the positive person. We consider the school settings, activities, and time frames that a positive student or staff member had been with other people – close contact is generally defined as within 6 feet for longer than 15 minutes or in the classroom setting for more than 4 hours. We assemble a list of who we deem a close contact based on guidelines for each setting. Sometimes that means a whole classroom has to close, and/or students who were with the COVID positive person in specific settings at specific times. While determining and communicating around a close contact we need to tread a delicate balance between protecting the confidentiality of medical information about our students and staff, while also giving enough information to others to do an accurate accounting of who might be at risk of being a close contact. We appreciate everyone’s understanding about this balance.We want to be able to provide in person learning and care for as many students as possible, while also doing everything we can to keep our our entire HMS community safe. If your child has been deemed a close contact and needs to quarantine, please follow these guidelines from the Vermont Department of Health. Thank you for your continued support, understanding, and vigilance. If you have any questions about these policies or procedures, please reach out to Desi or Tamara for further clarification.