COVID Q&A for 2022-2023
Dear Families, Faculty and Staff,
Thank you all for everything you've done to make for such a wonderful beginning to the year!
Part of what has made things so joyful has been seeing the return of many of the routines and traditions that had to take a backseat to COVID over the past few years. As we head into the colder months, it seems a good time to double back and review some of the health and safety policies we have in place. In August, we shared the school's COVID policies for the fall and the core principles guiding our work. But COVID is not the global and community crisis it once was, so I thought it was important to take some time to confirm and clarify some basics.
Please take a look at the information below, which is structured as a decision tree for parents and caregivers who are faced with a sick child and need some reminders on what to do next.
A few high-level messages I want to highlight before you dig in:
Let Nurse Straub help. If your child has to stay home with symptoms or tests positive for COVID, please let Mary know at email@example.com or 401-434-3833. Then, let us take it from there. Our Health Services Office keeps track of those members of our community who are immunocompromised or might otherwise need to know about a possible exposure to your child. She can let the need-to-know people know.
Use the dashboard. If you would like to keep a close eye on COVID cases in your child's grade, check the positive case dashboard at www.gordonschool.org/dashboard. This information may help you in those moments when you are wondering whether or not your child should mask up. Many children and adults at Gordon are contemplating this decision every day, and we know the more information you have, the easier it is to make the choice that is best for your family.
Read the emails we send you! The end of contact tracing means that, this year, your inboxes will not be inundated with COVID notification letters. So, when you do receive an email from us, please take some time to review it carefully. Gordon's current health and safety strategies are based on the community case levels in local counties and on the guidelines in the Rhode Island PreK-12 outbreak playbook, which is linked at www.gordonschool.org/playbook. If community case levels change dramatically, or there is significant new guidance in a revised playbook, we may need to change our protocols. We will let you know if that happens.
We are doing this! For better or worse, this community has two-and-a-half years experience navigating this pandemic together. We've been able to hold each other with trust and care thus far, and we have all the tools we need to navigate this new year, too.
Thank you, as always, for helping to get this year off to an amazing start. To all of our parents and caregivers, thank you for entrusting us with your child. To our talented and dedicated faculty and staff, thank you for what each of you brings to this incredible team.
My child doesn't feel well. Now what?
Great question. The information below will help.
Do they need to stay home?
If a child has ONE of the following COVID-19 symptoms, they need to stay home:
- A new or unexplained cough
- Shortness of breath or difficulty breathing
- Loss of taste or smell
If a child has TWO of the following COVID-19 symptoms, they need to stay home:
- Sore throat
- Nasal congestion
- Muscle or body aches
- Nausea or vomiting
Worth noting: Gordon requires that children with any COVID symptom take a rapid antigen or PCR test. Families should have a supply of rapid tests on hand to test your children when they develop symptoms of COVID. If you do not have access to an at-home rapid test, please contact Nurse Straub. She will arrange to have your child tested at school.
Also worth noting: COVID aside, any child who experiences vomiting or diarrhea more than once in twenty-four hours should stay home from school until they feel better.
If symptoms begin at school…
If your child develops symptoms while at school, we will….
- Complete a thorough assessment of current symptoms and previous health history. If you have provided consent for your child to receive a COVID test at school, Nurse Straub will complete a COVID test if the situation warrants.
- If your child tests positive for COVID, you will be called to pick up your child within one hour.
- If your child tests negative for COVID, Nurse Straub will determine whether your child is well enough to stay in school, or whether their symptoms require them to be sent home.
If my child stayed home because of symptoms, when can they return?
Symptomatic individuals who have been fever free for twenty-four hours without use of fever-reducing medication, have seen improvement of their symptoms, and have a negative test can return to campus.
What if my child has allergies, asthma, or some other chronic health condition with symptoms similar to COVID-19?
When your child has a new onset of ANY symptom, the Department of Health instructs families to assume that it’s COVID-19 and not allergies. If your child has multiple COVID-19 symptoms, they should stay home for at least twenty-four hours and have a test completed.
If your child has a history of allergies or asthma, they can return to school after a negative COVID test if their symptoms are consistent with the previous episode of their allergies or asthma, and they have no fever or other COVID symptoms.
If there is any new additional COVID-19 symptom or sudden change or worsening of runny nose or nasal congestion, then your child should stay home, seek medical advice and get tested.
Getting a test
How do I get a COVID-19 test?
If your child develops symptoms at school, and Nurse Straub deems it necessary, she may give them a rapid test at school.
There are many other ways to get a COVID-19 test. Find the most convenient way for you at covid.ri.gov/detect/testing:
- Healthcare provider, primary care provider, or pediatrician;
- Respiratory clinics or urgent care centers;
- Retail pharmacies (e.g., CVS, Walgreens);
Self-test kits are available at local pharmacies, online retailers, and from the federal government:
- Private health insurers are required to cover the cost of up to eight tests per month; and
- There are places in Rhode Island that offer free testing for people who don’t have insurance. Federal programs, like the Increased Community Access to Testing (ICATT) Program or the Test to Treat Program offer free testing for everyone.
At this time, Gordon is only performing rapid tests on symptomatic individuals. We are not conducting any surveillance testing or giving tests to individuals who do not show symptoms.
Positive test results
Who do I tell about a positive result?
If your child tests positive, please contact Nurse Straub right away at firstname.lastname@example.org. She will take care of notifying the appropriate people at Gordon and will provide instructions on isolation.
How long should my child isolate?
Your child should isolate at home for at least five full days after the date of their first positive test, if they are not showing symptoms, or five days after the symptoms first appeared.
When may my child return to school after testing positive?
Your child may return to campus after five full days in isolation (day six) if they…
- Are fever-free for at least twenty-four hours without use of fever-reducing medicine and COVID-19 symptoms have improved or are improving; and
- Wear a high-quality mask around others for five additional days
How long does my child have to wear a mask at school after their isolation?
Your child should wear a well-fitting mask at school for days six through ten following their five-day isolation period.
Your child may remove their mask before day eleven if they get two negative antigen tests in a row, forty-eight hours apart (first test on day six at the earliest).
This means that the earliest your child may remove their mask following the isolation period is day eight. Please let Nurse Straub know if you are planning on antigen testing to qualify for an earlier end to the mask requirement.
What if someone in my household tests positive for COVID-19?
If someone in your household tests positive for COVID-19, please let Nurse Straub know as soon as possible. Your child will be permitted to attend school as long as they are symptom free.
The household contact will be asked to wear a well-fitting mask for ten days following their exposure at home.
If your child has had a household exposure and develops symptoms, they will need to stay home and be tested.
What else should we do?
Stick with the basics. The simplest strategies have remained effective throughout this pandemic, including:
Get vaccinated. Make sure that you and your family members are up-to-date on their COVID vaccinations, including boosters, when eligible.
Wear well-fitting masks. Outside of high levels of community transmission or a directive from the Rhode Island Department of Health, masks are optional at Gordon. Every member of our community should feel comfortable deciding to mask up, or having their child mask up, at any time for any reason. If you do decide to have your child wear a mask, make sure it fits well.
Stay home if you are sick. And monitor symptoms closely.
And Gordon will continue to employ protocols that have been successful at school, including…
Ventilation. Large shared spaces like the theater, library and field house still have filtered air systems in place, and the CO2 monitoring systems that were put into place two years ago continue to ensure every classroom is well-ventilated.
Outdoor learning and playing Gordon's outdoors offer the best ventilation possible!
Basic hygiene Gordon will continue to teach children health and hygiene basics like handwashing and sanitary sneezing and coughing strategies.