District Announces New Mask-to-Stay Health & Safety Protocol
May 13, 2022
Dear School District of Philadelphia Families,
Positive cases of COVID-19 in Philadelphia are on the rise. Health experts have said that we should expect spikes in COVID cases from time to time as a normal part of the progression of the virus. In these instances, we should all take extra precautions to protect ourselves and others around us. This letter provides a reminder of what we can all do to help minimize the spread of COVID-19 in our schools and explains the Mask to Stay option now in place for our students.
- Masking – at this time, mask wearing in our schools and offices remains optional, except those in PreK Head Start programs where masking is required by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. We encourage everyone to carefully consider their personal circumstances and the current COVID-19 climate when making the choice to mask or not. Masks continue to be readily available upon request.
- Vaccines & Boosters – these remain the best protection from COVID-19. If you or your eligible child have not yet received the vaccine or booster shot, you can find locations near you on the City of Philadelphia’s website here or at www.vaccines.gov.
- New! Mask to StayOption – Requiring students who have been exposed to COVID-19 but are not exhibiting any symptomsto quarantine at home has the unintended consequence of reducing in-school learning. Therefore, the Philadelphia Department of Public Health has advised that we offer an in-school Mask to Stay alternative. Regardless of their vaccination or masking status, students who are close contacts and who are asymptomatic may stay in school if:
- they wear a mask during the school day for 10 days after their last date of exposure regardless of vaccine status,
- self-monitor, or parent-monitor, for symptoms of COVID-19, and
- isolate and get tested if they start to show symptoms associated with COVID-19.
Students who refuse to mask after being identified in a cohort will be required to quarantine at home for 10 days or will have the option to quarantine at home then test between days five and seven and return on day eight with a negative test.
- COVID-19 Testing – As has been the case throughout the pandemic, students who exhibit COVID-19 symptoms should stay home. Symptomatic testing will continue to be available for students and staff at these five Mobile Testing Sites Monday through Friday from 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. Students who exhibit COVID-like symptoms while at school will be tested by the school nurse as long as they have a COVID Testing Consent Form(see the Parent/Guardian Testing Consent section for a downloadable form) on file. Please submit this form to your school nurse or principal if you haven’t yet done so.
Individuals who test positive must isolate for 10 days and return on day 11 if they have no symptoms. The need for school-wide, on-site testing by a vendor will be determined in collaboration with PDPH and the District’s COVID Response Team.
As we enter the remaining weeks of the school year, let’s continue to work together to support healthy in-person learning and work environments. We will continue to work with PDPH to closely monitor COVID case counts and implement any actions needed to protect the health and well-being of everyone in our schools.
William R. Hite Jr., Ed.D.
The School District of Philadelphia