BURRILLVILLE – After two days of distance learning prompted by hundreds of student absences caused by the state’s COVID-19 rules for schools, the Burrillville School District will resume in-person instruction on Monday, Jan. 10.
The Rhode Island Department of Health released new protocols for schools on Friday in keeping with new guidance from the Centers for Disease Control that will lessen the amount of time students who do not have symptoms must stay home.
According to a note to parents, the updates will be put into practice in Burrillville schools starting Monday, Jan. 10.
All Burrillville students had returned to the virtual classroom last week after Supt. Michael Sollitto announced that schools were averaging more than 400 student and around 40 teacher absences a day. Snow on Friday led districts across the state to follow suit.
“As you may have heard RIDOH recently released new guidelines related to isolation and quarantine protocols for K-9 settings,” noted an update on the district’s plans Friday afternoon.
Starting Monday, isolation and quarantine periods will be reduced fro ten days to five and negative COVID-19 test results are no longer required. Anyone ordered to quarantine last week who will be past five days as of Monday may return to school if they are symptom free. Asymptomatic individuals may attend school as long as they are masked and following appropriate guidelines under the latest RIDOH jargon known as, “monitor to stay.”
“It is vital that students and staff who have symptoms stay home from school,” the letter states.
In a communication on the new guidelines to all Rhode Island school administrators, RIDOH notes that, “vaccination remains the most powerful strategy to keep children and families healthy and students learning and involved in extracurricular activities in person.”
The update notes that anyone who tests positive must remain home for five days and must be fever-free for 24 hours before returning to school. Staff and students age 18 and older who are identified as close contacts are exempt from quarantine if they don’t have symptoms and their vaccine status is considered up to date. That means completion of the two-dose primary series of Pfizer within the last 5 months; the two-dose primary series of Moderna within the last 6 months; the one-dose primary series of J&J vaccine in the last 2 months or receipt of a booster shot.
Students age 5-17 who are identified as close contacts are exempt from quarantine if they have don’t have symptoms and have completed the two-dose primary series of Pfizer or Moderna more than 14 days prior the exposure date.
There is also a quarantine exemption for those who previously had COVID-19 no more than 90 days prior to the last date of close contact.
The memo for RIDOH on the guidelines can be found here.
The revisions apply to school contacts only, with different protocols applying to household contacts.
The changes are also expected to lighten the load on school staff as COVID cases across the state reach record levels. The update dictates that he simplest method of communication that works for each school community should be used to notify close contacts and start close contact lists no longer need to be provided to RIDOH.
Sollitto noted that school nurses, teachers and principals are still reviewing the latest changes.
“We realize there may be questions about these new guidelines, so we are working to develop easy to follow flow charts that will be sent home along with additional information in the coming days,” the letter states.