With students returning to classes Monday, Superintendent Carol Cavanaugh emailed Hopkinton Public Schools families Sunday to clarify the district’s policy on COVID isolation and quarantine.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recently updated its isolation and quarantine recommendations for the general public as well as for K-12 schools, relaxing the time individuals should spend in isolation or quarantine.
The Hopkinton Public Schools are following the CDC’s most recent guidance for K-12 schools. This means a student or staff member who is diagnosed with COVID must self-isolate for a minimum of 10 days after symptom onset or, if asymptomatic, after a positive PCR or antigen test. The individual can return to school on Day 11 if they are fever-free for 24 hours (without taking fever-reducing medications) and have experienced improvement in other symptoms. They do not need a negative COVID test.
Student-athletes who test positive must self-isolate for a minimum of 10 days, then submit a doctor’s note clearing them to return to athletic participation.
An individual who is determined to be a close contact of someone with COVID does not need to quarantine if they are fully vaccinated and asymptomatic. Unvaccinated close contacts are eligible for the school’s Test and Stay program, which has been reduced to five days (from seven) from the fate of exposure. Unvaccinated close contacts can remain in school as long as they are asymptomatic, wear a mask in the building at all times (except when eating or drinking, at which time they should maintain 3 feet of distance from other individuals), take a daily rapid antigen test and receive a negative result each day for five days, quarantine on non-school days during that five-day period, and conduct active monitoring for symptoms through Day 10 and immediately self-isolate at home if symptoms develop.
For the general public (outside of K-12 schools), the CDC’s recommended isolation period for those with COVID was shortened to five days for individuals who are asymptomatic or their symptoms are resolving (without fever for 24 hours), followed by five days of wearing a mask around others.
For close contacts, the quarantine period was reduced to five days plus five days of mask wearing for those who are unvaccinated or more than six months out from their second mRNA dose (or more than two months after the Johnson & Johnson vaccine). Those who have received a booster shot do not need to quarantine following an exposure but should wear a mask for 10 days after the exposure. For all those exposed, best practice also would include a COVID test at Day 5 after exposure. Anyone displaying symptoms should immediately quarantine until getting a negative test.
The Massachusetts Department of Public Health and the state’s Department of Elementary and Secondary Education decided to adopt the CDC’s recommendation for the general public and apply it to K-12 schools, requiring only a five-day isolation for COVID-positive individuals, but Hopkinton is not following that guidance.
State officials last week announced that they would distribute rapid COVID-19 tests for every public school teacher and staff member in Massachusetts. Hopkinton teachers and staffers picked up their tests Sunday morning at the middle school.
DESE also distributed millions of high-filtration KN95 masks to public schools for staff members to wear in January. DESE extended its universal mask requirement for all K-12 public schools through at least Jan. 15.
After relaxing its policy on masks for vaccinated individuals at the high school in November and December, Hopkinton schools are back to requiring masks for everyone.