The State has issued some new guidance for schools. Please see below for changes which impact both vaccinated and unvaccinated students and staff. ;
Do fully vaccinated persons need to be tested?
It depends on the circumstances, per CDC's guidance.
- If a fully vaccinated person develops symptoms of COVID-19, they should be tested, isolated, and excluded from school. COVID-19 symptoms include the following: fever (100.4 or higher), new onset of moderate to severe headache, shortness of breath, cough, sore throat, vomiting, diarrhea, fatigue from unknown cause, muscle or body aches from unknown cause). The symptoms were recently updated. This was done since some of the COVID-19 symptoms are also symptoms of common illnesses like seasonal allergies, colds, and chronic conditions like asthma. If there is an increased concern due to community spread or known close contacts, other symptoms may require a student/staff member to be excluded until the individual is tested.
- If a fully vaccinated student or staff has close contact with a confirmed case of COVID-19, they should be tested 3 to 5 days after exposure but are not required to be excluded as long as they remain asymptomatic (or they test positive).
- If a fully vaccinated staff or student attends a school or classroom that is currently experiencing an outbreak, that student or staff may have been exposed and should be tested as part of the school's outbreak testing response.
What actions should be taken by students/staff sent home with COVID-19 like symptoms? (or that have them and stay home)
- All students and staff (regardless of vaccination status) excluded with COVID-19 like symptoms should be diagnostically tested with a PCR or rapid antigen or molecular test with Emergency Use Authorization by the FDA. Over the counter tests aren't allowable. Schools must exclude any student or staff that exhibit symptoms of COVID-19 (1) until they test negative for COVID-19 or a minimum of 10 days, (2) until they are fever free for 24 hours (with no fever reducing medications), and (3) until 48 hours after diarrhea and vomiting have ended.
- Students and staff who are confirmed or probable cases of COVID-19 must be excluded for 10 calendar days from the date of positive test if asymptomatic or following onset of symptoms if symptomatic, or as otherwise directed by the local health authority. Individuals who meet the above criteria may return to school even if other household members are in isolation or quarantine in the home.
- Students and staff with COVID-19 like symptoms who do not get tested for COVID, must be excluded for 10 calendar days from the date of first symptom onset and be fever free for 24 hours (without using fever reducing medicine) and other symptoms have improved before returning to school. This would include 48 hours after diarrhea or vomiting.
If a student is sent home sick with suspected COVID-19 symptoms, must all their siblings/household members be sent home as well?
- If the ill household member is tested within 24 hours of first notification of symptoms, household members do not need to be sent home unless there is a high suspicion the ill person has COVID-19 (they are a known close contact, they have lost sense of taste and smell, etc). Pending test results, household members can remain in school with consistent use of well-fitting masks both indoors, as required, and outdoors. If the ill household member tests positive for COVID-19, then any unvaccinated household members should be removed from the school immediately. If testing does not occur within 24 hours, unvaccinated household members must be excluded.
How many symptoms does a person need to have to be considered a suspect COVID-19 case?
- Students and staff exhibiting one or more COVID-19 symptoms are considered suspect cases and should be immediately isolated and evaluated. Additionally, each episode of a new symptom onset should be evaluated, even if they have a history of migraines, seasonal allergies, etc since it is possible to have COVID-19 and other health conditions at the same time. Early diagnosis can prevent further transmission. Individuals who have undergone testing should remain home away from others while waiting for COVID-19 test results.
As always, we are working to keep all students and staff as safe and well as possible. Please be sure to communicate with the schools any time your child is not feeling well. The testing options in St Clair County can be found at https://www.co.st-clair.il.us/departments/health-department/covid-19-information.