Superintendent Discusses ‘Screen And Stay’ Effort To Reduce COVID Quarantines
Superintendent of Schools Dr Lorrie Rodrigue discussed the state’s rollout of a new Screen and Stay initiative at the Board of Education’s November 16 meeting.
As announced by the state, under the initiative, students and staff identified as close contacts to a known COVID-19 case but who are not fully vaccinated will be able to remain in school if they were wearing masks and do not develop symptoms.
Dr Rodrigue outlined the different initiative guidelines, saying the initiative was developed by the Connecticut Department of Public Health to offer relief for students impacted by ongoing quarantining of unvaccinated students.
Board of Education Chair Michelle Embree Ku pointed out that vaccinations are available for all school aged children now and being vaccinated is another way to avoid the quarantining measures that impact the unvaccinated.
The state outlined, as previously reported in The Newtown Bee, that students and staff are eligible to participate if the close contact with a COVID-19 case occurs under the following circumstances:
*Exclusively during the school day (no extracurricular or social contact);
*If indoors or on a school bus or other school transportation, and both the contact and the COVID-19 case were consistently masked during the exposure even if brief unmasked periods (e.g., snack time, cafeteria) occurred, as long as six feet or more of space was consistently maintained;
*If outdoors, the individuals were masked or unmasked but were supervised by staff (e.g., mask breaks, physical education, recess);
*The close contact remains asymptomatic (any symptoms revert to regular isolation/quarantine).
Examples of close contact scenarios that do not support a Screen and Stay approach would be:
*Contact with a case during interscholastic or other athletic activities (other than during supervised outdoor physical education and recess);
*Contact occurring during social interactions or similar activities outside of school (e.g., birthday parties, dining out, sleepovers);
*Contact where the individuals were not consistently and correctly wearing masks indoors and a six-foot distance was not maintained;
*The contact occurred between members of the same household (i.e., the contact lives with the case);
*If, upon return to school, the contact cannot consistently and correctly wear a mask.
Rodrigue said she believes most local schools will be choosing to use the Screen and Stay as an option for students.
“It is an option; it is not required. However, I feel we would do our students and families an injustice not to utilize this opportunity,” said Rodrigue.
While Rodrigue said details would need to be finalized before the district could implement the Screen and Stay initiative, Newtown School Nursing Supervisor Anne Dalton, RN, and Rodrigue said the Screen and Stay program would help minimize the number of quarantine cases.
Rodrigue also spoke to the ratio of quarantine cases and having none of those cases result in a positive case of COVID-19.
“I think this is a large step forward,” said Dalton, adding that this initiative would allow the district to safely minimize quarantining.
Later, Dalton said, “I’m so happy to see where the numbers are right now, but I am also holding my breath because winter is coming.”
Also at the meeting, three Board of Education members who are leaving the board were celebrated for their service. A story on that celebration will be in the November 26 print edition of The Newtown Bee.
Education Reporter Eliza Hallabeck can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.