This communication was emailed to P-H-M families and staff on Thursday, Sept. 2, 2021
Governor Holcomb issued Executive Order 21-24 yesterday (Wednesday, Sept. 1, 2021) and the Indiana Department of Health (IDOH) updated their guidance to allow schools to modify COVID-19 quarantine guidelines if they adhere to the following:
For K-12 schools that have and consistently enforce a face covering requirement for children, students, teachers, staff and others present, close contacts are not required to quarantine and may continue to attend school as long as they are asymptomatic. The close contacts should monitor daily for symptoms of COVID-19. Any symptoms of COVID-19 must prompt immediate removal of the symptomatic individual from the school environment. The individual should seek testing and isolate (click here to read the full IDOH updated COVID-19 Control Measures).
The IDOH made the revision after reviewing data from the CDC. This revised guidance eliminates the requirement of a close contact to quarantine IF the person testing positive is wearing a mask AND all close contacts are wearing masks. Schools will communicate to families of students identified as close contacts to self-monitor for symptoms closely throughout the 14-day period following exposure. If a close contact develops symptoms they will quarantine and test, whether fully vaccinated or not following the quarantine guidelines outlined in the P-H-M Health & Safety Overview: Fall 2021 beginning on page 8.
In a traditional classroom setting where everyone is masked, a close contact is someone who is within 3 feet of a positive person for more than 15 minutes over a 24 hour period. If not in a classroom or not everyone is masked, a close contact is someone who is within 6 feet of a positive case (click for more details from IDOH).
Additionally, we have spoken with the St. Joseph Department of Health and received clarification that the contact tracing on a school bus can be reduced from within 6 feet to within 3 feet because all students are required to wear masks per federal Department of Transportation regulation.
The Executive Order and revised IDOH COVID-19 Control Measures allows quarantined asymptomatic students who were identified as close contacts, but were fully masked in the classroom and on the school bus, to return to school. This means P-H-M students who meet this criteria can return tomorrow, Friday, September 3, 2021. Students who are in quarantine from a non-school related close contact OR who are exhibiting symptoms will need to remain in quarantine following the timeline already communicated.
As you are aware, the P-H-M Board of School Trustees approved universal masking on August 23, 2021 for all students, staff, vendors and guests while indoors, regardless of vaccination status. The goal of requiring masks was to help reduce community transmission and to keep schools open for in-person instruction. The Executive Order and updated IDOH contact tracing guidelines will help reduce the number of students and staff out due to contact tracing. We encourage all stakeholders to remain vigilant to mitigation strategies in school, at home, and in the community (click for details from the CDC) to reduce the spread of the virus.
We appreciate the resilience and flexibility of our students, families, teachers and staff as the data and guidelines are updated.
Dr. Jerry Thacker
Superintendent of Schools