Shrewsbury Public Schools COVID-19 Information for Families
2022-2023 School Year
The COVID-19 pandemic has evolved into a stable phase over the past several months regarding the level of risk of severe illness or death, and there is widespread access to vaccines, effective treatments available for those at higher risk for severe disease, and availability of rapid self-tests. As a result, the Massachusetts Department of Public Health (MA DPH) and the Department of Elementary & Secondary Education (DESE) issued updated guidance (here and here) based on an update from the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), regarding how schools should approach the new school year. Our district will follow the updated MA DPH and DESE guidance. Please note the summary of our approach below:
1) Vaccination and boosters remain strongly encouraged by medical and public health authorities as the best way to protect against the effects of COVID-19.
2) Masking inside school buildings and offices remains optional for all members of the school community, except for within school nurse health offices, where it is mandated by the state. The individual decisions to mask made by students, families, and staff will be respected.
3) Individuals who test positive for COVID-19 must isolate for five days, with Day Zero being the day symptoms began (or the day of the positive test if asymptomatic). If symptoms are resolved or improving and the individual has been fever-free for 24 hours without fever-reducing medicine, they may return to school on Day 6 but should continue masking through Day 10 (however, those who have a subsequent negative test on Day 5 or later do not need to mask – see MA DPH guidance for details).
4) Individuals who have been exposed to COVID-19 but who are asymptomatic are no longer required to quarantine, regardless of vaccination status, and masking is recommended through Day 10 after exposure. Individuals who have been exposed and who have symptoms but who then test negative may remain at school, and should wear a mask until the symptoms resolve. Testing is recommended on Day 6 after exposure, sooner if experiencing symptoms before Day 6.
5) Weekly safety/surveillance testing, “test and stay,” and contact tracing are no longer recommended nor funded by the state, and SPS will not be engaged in these practices. The district has an inventory of rapid tests, and while supplies last a test kit will be offered to the family of a student who requires dismissal due to symptoms. The results of these self-administered rapid tests will be reported to the school nurse. SPS will provide rapid testing supplies only to those students who present with COVID symptoms in school.
6) School building ventilation systems will continue to be utilized in the same manner as last year, and opening windows is still encouraged to maximize air flow. Spaces without windows have been equipped with air purifiers. Like last year, some windows on school buses will be opened to improve bus ventilation.
7) To reduce the chances of transmitting COVID-19 or other illnesses, families should practice good hand hygiene and encourage this with students, and should use good judgment regarding staying home and getting tested if exhibiting symptoms:
- Fever (100.0° Fahrenheit or higher), chills, or shaking chills
- Difficulty breathing or shortness of breath
- New loss of taste or smell
- Muscle aches or body aches
- Cough (not due to other known cause, such as chronic cough)
- Sore throat, when in combination with other symptoms
- Nausea, vomiting, when in combination with other symptoms
- Headache, when in combination with other symptoms
- Fatigue, when in combination with other symptoms
- Nasal congestion or runny nose (not due to other known causes, such as allergies), when in combination with other symptoms
We will update guidance and practices if necessary depending on the continued evolution of the pandemic. As always, thank you for your cooperation as we work together to minimize the risk of transmission of illness while providing effective, in-person education for our students.