General COVID-19 Protocol for the 2022-2023 School Year

General COVID-19 Protocol for the 2022-2023 School Year

Revisions (as of August 29, 2022)

  • Update: Return to work guidelines for employees.
  • Update: Guidance on when a symptomatic student who is COVID negative can return to school. Provide clarifying language that a symptomatic, COVID negative student needs to meet normal return to school criteria or can present a clinician’s note stating the student can return to school.
  • Update: Clarify that an outbreak is defined as 3 or more epilinked cases in a cohort of 3 or more cases determined to be related in a school community.
  • Update: Quarantine is no longer recommended, per CDC guidance.  Accommodations to masking may include use of face shield or COVID testing.

The District, in consultation with the Philadelphia Department of Public Health (PDPH), has established protocols to respond to suspected and confirmed positive cases of COVID-19 to maintain the health and safety of the school community.

All staff and parents/guardians of students are required to notify the appropriate District designee (as outlined in the Pre-screening/Symptom Monitoring/Mandatory Reporting section below) immediately if a staff member or student experiences symptoms of COVID-19, has a positive COVID-19 test, or has been exposed to an individual with a confirmed COVID-19 diagnosis.

COVID-19 Response Team

The COVID Response Team (CRT) is responsible for responding to all positive COVID-19 cases involving students or staff in District schools or offices.  CRT staff are trained to support and advise District staff, families, and school communities with COVID-19 case investigation.  The CRT is available by phone at 215-400-5454 and by email at coronavirusreport@philasd.org between the hours of 8:00am to 4:00pm, Monday to Friday.

 

GENERAL GUIDANCE

Personal Illness

All individuals who are sick are expected to stay home, and any student, staff member, or approved visitor who becomes sick while in a District building should leave the premises.

Symptoms Suggestive of COVID-19 Illness

New symptoms that are not explained by a prior medical condition:

  • Fever of 100.4℉ or greater
  • Muscle or body aches
  • Headache
  • Sore throat
  • Congestion or runny nose
  • Cough
  • Fatigue
  • Nausea or vomiting
  • Diarrhea
  • New or persistent cough
  • New loss of taste or smell
  • Shortness of breath or difficulty breathing

Pre-Screening/Symptom Monitoring/Mandatory Reporting

Parents/guardians, students, and staff are required to conduct a daily self-screen at home before reporting to school or work. If they feel ill, they must refrain from entering a school district building.

Employees

Employees are required to monitor themselves for symptoms of COVID-19 described on page 2, remain at home if one or more symptoms are present and acquire a COVID 19 test prior to returning to work. Employees are required to report if they test positive for COVID-19 to Employee Health Services by completing the Positive Covid-19 Notification Form. For more information or to report a positive test, employees also may contact the CRT by phone at 215-400-5454 or by email at coronavirusreport@philasd.org between the hours of 8:00am to 4:00 pm, Monday to Friday.

Parents/Students

All parents/guardians are required to monitor their children for symptoms of COVID-19 described on Page 2 before their children leave for school each morning. If one or more of the symptoms are present, the parent/guardian must keep the student at home and contact the school nurse for further instructions including acquiring a COVID-19 test.

EMPLOYEES AND STUDENTS WHO ARE CLOSE CONTACTS OF A POSITIVE CASE OF COVID-19

Those identified as a close contact of a positive case of COVID-19, will be contacted directly by the COVID Response Team and/or Employee Health Services, and may additionally be contacted by PDPH, with important information concerning the need to mask and test. Close contact is defined as being within six feet of the person for at least 15 minutes within a 48-hour period, regardless of mask use. An employee or student who is identified as a close contact with a positive case of COVID-19 will be able to continue to attend work or school but must:

  • Self-monitor, or parent-monitor, for symptoms of COVID-19.
  • Wear a mask for 10 days after last date of exposure, and ideally get rapid or molecular testing within 48 hours of last exposure and again at day 5 if not experiencing any symptoms.
  • If symptoms associated with COVID-19 develop after exposure, isolate, acquire a test and report the results to the COVID-19 Response Team by phone at 215-400-5454
  • All members of an exposed cohort (class, grade, etc) will mask for 10 days after last exposure, and ideally get rapid or molecular testing within 48 hours and again at day 5. Masking should be maintained for 10 days.
    • Students that are unable to mask due to a medical condition, mental health or disability may request an accommodation.
    • In the case of an outbreak, the need for school-wide, on-site testing will be determined in collaboration with PDPH and the District’s COVID Response Team.
    • Over the Counter (OTC) test kits will be offered to exposed students.

COVID-19 CASE NOTIFICATION

Consistent with both notification requirements for other communicable diseases and legal confidentiality, when a positive COVID-19 case is identified at a school or in an office building, the District will follow PDPH regulations for a reportable communicable disease.The COVID Response Team will notify the PDPH. All District students, staff, and families who have been potentially exposed to a positive COVID-19 case will be notified. These notifications will be completed by administration, in consultation with the school nurse (for students) and Employee Health Services (for staff), with follow-up written correspondence which will include:

  • If known, date of exposure
  • Information on self monitoring for symptoms, and safety protocols that help to minimize spread(hand washing, face coverings, physical distancing)
  • Local testing site information to schedule an appointment for testing

EMPLOYEE WHO DEVELOPS SYMPTOMS WHILE AT WORK

An employee who develops symptoms suggestive of a COVID-19 illness while at work should leave work, following the appropriate protocols for alerting the supervisor. The employee should seek a COVID-19 test.  A COVID-19 test can be obtained from one of the five stationary sites throughout the city, or through another healthcare provider (pharmacist, primary care provider, other testing site).

Rapid antigen and PCR tests are both acceptable and the guidance is the same for results of either test type.

EMPLOYEE WHO TESTS POSITIVE FOR COVID-19

An employee who tests positive for COVID-19 must:

  • Notify the District’s COVID Response Team by completing the Positive Covid-19 Notification Form on the day of the positive result. Employees may also contact the CRT by phone at 215-400-5454 between the hours of 8:00am to 4:00 pm, Monday to Friday or via  email at coronavirusreport@philasd.org.
  • Adhere to the Return to Work Guidelines below.

Employees who test positive for COVID-19 must isolate themselves in accordance with current CDC and PDPH guidelines for a person infected with COVID-19.

The COVID Response Team will:

  • Notify PDPH and provide the following information: employee’s name, contact information, date of birth, date of positive test, when the individual became symptomatic, most recent date at work, and at what location(s).
  • Notify close contacts and provide guidance on mitigation measures.
  • Notify the Office of Facilities to initiate cleaning protocols as per department guidelines.

RETURN TO WORK GUIDELINES

When tested and determined to be COVID-19 positive, the employee must isolate at home for at least five days or until all of the following are true:

  • 24 hours fever-free without use of fever reducing medication (Tylenol, Motrin, etc.),

AND

  • symptoms are improving.

Employees may return to work on Day 6 but must wear a high-quality mask (N95 or KN95 recommended) until Day 10 from the start of symptoms or a positive test, whichever came first. Note: The COVID-19 positive individual does NOT need a repeat COVID test or a doctor’s note in order to return to work.

STUDENT WHO DEVELOPS SYMPTOMS WHILE AT SCHOOL

Protocol for Sending a Student to the Healthroom from a Classroom

If a student develops symptoms of a COVID-19 illness while at school the following will occur:

Teacher’s Role
  • Teacher will call the Health Room prior to sending the student and notify the nurse of the reason for the visit.
  • The teacher will assign an adult to accompany the student to the Healthroom if age warrants accompaniment. The adult will present the student to the nurse and leave the healthroom.
Nurse’s Role
  • Based on the teacher’s description, the nurse will determine the area of treatment: Healthroom or Medical Waiting Room.
  • Students will be assessed in the Medical Waiting Room if they exhibit symptoms of COVID-19 illness
  • The nurse will perform prompt and appropriate assessment and documentation as per protocol.
  • If a student meets the criteria for COVID-19 testing as per protocol, and the student’s family has consented to COVID-19 testing, the nurse will administer the BinaxNOW test adhering to training provided by CHOP/SHS.
  • If a student tests positive,
    • The school nurses will place students in the Medical Waiting Room if testing is performed elsewhere.
    • The school nurse will notify the building administrator and notify the District’s COVID-19 Response Team by completing the Positive Covid-19 Notification Form.
    • Letters will be distributed by school administration to school staff and families as per PDPH guidance.
    • The positive student will not be allowed to ride District transportation home; they must be picked up by the parent or guardian.
  • Parents/guardians will be given instructions for further care, dependent on the results of COVID-19 testing.
Administrator’s Role:
  • Receive from the staff of the CRT the notification letter to be signed by the administrator.
  • Be responsible for the distribution process of the notification letters, to the students and the parents/guardians in the impacted cohort.
  • Ensure the proper coding of the impacted students’ absences.
  • Register students for Quarantine Learning if applicable.

When a Symptomatic Student Does Not Get Tested

The student will be sent home and remain home until all of the following are true:

  • If symptom-free after 5 days of isolation, students may return to school but must wear a high-quality mask (N95 or KN95 recommended) for an additional 5 days and must eat in a designated area,  AND
  • until fever free and off anti-fever medications for 24 hours

OR

  • There is a documented alternative diagnosis by a healthcare provider AND standard return after illness criteria have been met

Regardless of consent, the parent/guardian of a student with symptoms of COVID-19 that meet the criteria described above to be sent home, will be required to pick the student up immediately in the same manner as students who have been tested. All students regardless of participating in the testing program will be required to be picked up from school when they are ill.

STUDENT WHO TESTS POSITIVE FOR COVID-19 OUTSIDE OF SCHOOL

When a student tests positive for COVID-19, the parent/guardian must:

  • Notify the school nurse or the COVID Response Team by phone at 215-400-5454
  • Adhere to the Return to School Guidelines below.

COVID-19 Response Team will:

  • Notify PDPH and provide the following information: student’s name, contact information, date of birth, date of positive test, when the individual became symptomatic, most recent date at school
  • Notify close contacts and provide guidance on mitigation measures.
  • Notify the Office of Facilities to initiate cleaning protocols as per department guidelines.

RETURN TO SCHOOL GUIDELINES

When tested and determined to be COVID-19 positive, the student will remain home until all of the following are true:

  • If symptom-free after 5 days of isolation, students may return to school but must wear a high-quality mask (N95 or KN95 recommended) for an additional 5 days and must eat in a designated area, AND
  • the student has been fever-free for 24 hours without use of fever reducing medication (Tylenol, Motrin, etc.)

Note: The COVID-19 positive student does NOT need a repeat COVID test or a doctor’s note in order to return to school.

When symptomatic and determined to be COVID-19 negative by a rapid antigen test or PCR test, the student will remain home until:

  • The student meets the school’s normal criteria for return after an illness which includes fever free, vomiting and diarrhea free for greater than 24 hours without medication

OR

  • A clinician has evaluated the child and documented an alternative diagnosis and that the student may return to school.

When symptomatic but COVID-19 testing was not completed, the students will remain home until all of the following are true:

  • If symptom-free after 5 days of isolation, students may return to school but must wear a high-quality mask (N95 or KN95 recommended) for an additional 5 days and must eat in a designated area,  AND
  • 24 hours fever-free without use of fever reducing medication (Tylenol, Motrin, etc.),

OR

  • A clinician has evaluated the student and documented an alternative diagnosis and that the student may return to school sooner than 10 days

ADDITIONAL  INFORMATION

COVID-19 TESTING

Employees and students who require COVID-19 testing may use any of the following options:

  • Use a home rapid antigen test
  • Visit one of the five stationary testing sites where both rapid antigen and PCR tests are performed. Appointments can be made by visiting the District’s website
  • Select from one of these COVID-19 testing sites located throughout the area.
  • Visit a healthcare provider

COVID-19 Testing Specific for Staff

Prescription plans cover COVID-19 antibody testing and Over the Counter tests in accordance with federal guidelines. Click Here for more information about the Over the Counter (OTC) test.

COVID-19 Testing Scenarios for Students and Staff:

  • Symptomatic Testing: The School Nurse will administer COVID-19 rapid antigen testing to a symptomatic student at school. The testing vendor may provide COVID testing for students.
  • Diagnostic Testing during outbreak: If a student or staff member is a part of a cohort (for example, classroom, sports team or performing arts group) with multiple positive COVID-19 cases in the cohort,testing may be provided by a vendor on-site or by the use of OTC tests distributed to exposed students and staff.

*Outbreak is defined as 3 or more epilinked cases in a cohort or 3 or more  cases determined to be related in a school community

  • Modified Test to Stay: Students exposed to COVID-19 within a cohort and unable to participate in Mask to Stay due to a specific documented medical condition/disability will have the option to test to stay. This means students will be provided OTC tests and  will test every 48 hours for 10 calendar days in order to remain in school during that time frame.

CONTACT TRACING

Contact tracing is a key strategy used by health departments to prevent the further spread of infectious diseases. It involves identifying people who have the virus, determining who they have been in contact with, and notifying the contacts for further recommendations concerning potential mitigation measures to interrupt disease transmission. When notified of a staff member, student, or approved visitor with a confirmed case of COVID-19, the District, through the COVID-19 Response Team, will coordinate with PDPH on COVID-19 reporting and response efforts.

MASK GUIDANCE

Masking will be optional for students and staff except:

  • For the first 10 days of the new school year–August 29 through September 9.
  • When the COVID-19 Community Level is high according to the CDC COVID-19 Community Level Indicators. In this instance, the District will notify families and staff that indoor universal masking will be required in schools, school buses and offices until the Community Level returns to medium. At a Community Level of medium, masking is strongly recommended.
  • In specific instances where universal masking may be required, regardless of the COVID-19 Community Level, including:
    • a classroom, school-wide, office-wide or department-wide outbreak

OR

  • upon return from extended breaks and holidays when increased social gathering may heighten the risk of exposure to COVID-19.

Students and staff at PreK Head Start programs still are required to wear masks at all times, regardless of Community Level, based on federal requirements.

MASK TO STAY

Students and staff will no longer need to quarantine after a COVID-19 exposure. Students and staff can now Mask to Stay. This means that individual close contacts and classroom cohorts, regardless of vaccination or masking status, may remain in the classroom or work environment if they abide by the following:

  • Wear a mask for 10 days after their last date of exposure.
  • Self-monitor, or parent-monitor, for symptoms of COVID-19.
  • Isolate and get tested if they start to experience symptoms associated with COVID-19.

Requiring students to quarantine at home who have been exposed to COVID-19 has the unintended consequence of reducing in-school learning and adds strain on classroom coverage. We know vaccination and mask usage are critical components to ensuring a safe school environment, therefore, Mask to Stay offers an in-school alternative to quarantining students at home who have been exposed to COVID-19 to support in-school learning and reduce the strain.

Accommodations for Students Who Are Unable to Wear a Mask Due to Medical Conditions or Other Reasons

  • Students with the following conditions are eligible to use a face shield in place of a mask. This list is not exhaustive. Additional requests will be considered on an individual basis.
    • Tracheostomies
    • Neuromuscular and other conditions that limit the ability to self-remove a mask
    • Autism
    • Hearing Impairment
    • Chronological young age
    • Developmental young age
    • Cognitive impairment
  • Any student who cannot wear a mask or face shield due to 1) a medical condition, 2) mental health condition, 3) disability, or 4) inability to remove a mask without assistance are not required to wear face coverings.
  • For any student that cannot wear a mask, the school IEP/504 team and/or school nurse should be contacted to assist with accommodations around mitigation efforts. For accommodations the school may take additional precautions such as encouraging the use of a face shield or at-home COVID testing with OTC Rapid Antigen test.
  • Parents and guardians can complete the mask exemption request form and return to the school IEP/504 team and/or school nurse.

SPECIFIC CONSIDERATIONS FOR ATHLETICS AND PERFORMING ARTS

COVID exposure on sports team/performing arts program

Mask to Stay is an in-school alternative to quarantining students at home who have been exposed to COVID-19. Students who have been exposed to COVID-19 and are asymptomatic will not have to quarantine at home and can mask to stay in school.

Individual close contacts and classroom cohorts, regardless of vaccination or masking status, may remain in the classroom or work environment if they do the following:

  • Wear a mask for 10 days after their last date of exposure.
  • Self-monitor, or parent-monitor, for symptoms of COVID-19.
  • Isolate and get tested if they start to experience symptoms associated with COVID-19.

Athletic teams and performing arts extracurricular activities will be treated as a cohort.

For Athletic Teams:

  • If there is a positive case of COVID-19 on an athletic team, the entire team will be required to mask to stay for 10 calendar days  regardless of vaccination status and ideally undergo COVID-19 testing, within 48 hours of last exposure and again at day 5 if not experiencing any symptoms. For all activities during and after school, vaccinated student athletes will NOT have to mask while in active play/competition.  Student-athletes will be provided OTC test kits for at- home COVID testing.

For Performing Arts:

  • If a student in a performing arts program tests positive for COVID-19, the cohort will mask to stay for 10 days regardless of vaccination status and will be referred for COVID testing. Performance arts activities will be provided OTC test kits for at-home COVID testing. Performing arts students will be required to mask during active performance. Accommodations, such as using a bell cover, can be made for instrumental students.

Universal district-wide or school-wide indoor masking required

  • In the event that school or district-wide masking is required, vaccinated student athletes and performing art students will NOT have to mask while in active play/competition or performance. Unvaccinated student athletes and performing art students will be required to mask while in active play/competition or performance. Accommodations for masking, such as using a bell cover, can be made for instrumental students.  Regardless of vaccination status, student athletes and performing arts students will be required to mask during all other activities when not actively playing or performing (ie. locker room, travel,etc.).

Assurance Testing is no longer required

  • Test to play/perform will no longer be required for unvaccinated students participating in Athletics and/or Performing Arts during the 2022-2023 school year.

Vaccination is strongly encouraged, but no longer required

  • Student athletes and performing arts students are strongly encouraged to remain up to date on COVID vaccinations. COVID vaccinations are not required to participate in athletics and/or performing arts activities for the 2022-2023 school year.

Audiences at indoor athletic and performing arts events

  • Audiences at indoor athletic events and performing arts events taking place at an SDP operated facility, will have to comply with the current SDP masking requirements at the time of the event.