Tuesday, December 07, 2021

Local News

Branford Public Schools Implements 'Screen & Stay' Covid-19 Protocol

As of Monday, Nov. 15, Branford Public Schools have begun implementing "Screen and Stay" Covid-19 guidance. The guidance was first announced by Gov. Ned Lamont on Nov. 4 as a protocol to be rolled out by schools to provide temporary, immediate relief for families impacted by quarantine.

"Screen and Stay is really another tool in the tool box for us to keep students in school, but it's a narrow exception; it is narrowly defined," said Superintendent of Schools Hamlet Hernandez, when presenting the district's plans to the Board of Education (BOE) Communication Committee on Nov. 10.

"I think it's important for everyone to understand that quarantines which currently are the 7-day test-out quarantine, that's still in place and will still very much be implemented," said Hernandez.

Screen and Stay is defined as "a narrow exception to the quarantine requirement that can be applied to some students in grades K through 12+ and staff who are identified as close contacts from an in-school exposure under certain conditions," according to information shared at the BPS website (branford.k12.ct.us).  The process will allow those students who meet protocol guidelines when coming into close contact of a COVID-19 case to attend school while being monitored for symptoms over a 14-day period.

Guidelines from the State Dept. of Education were sent out to superintendents on Nov. 4. On Nov. 8, superintendents of Branford, North Branford, East Haven, Guilford and Madison  met with local emergency health management departments to discuss Screen and Stay, followed up on Nov. 9 with health departments and State Dept.  of Education calls to districts. An implementation meeting with BPS principals and building-based teams took place on Nov. 9, ahead of announcing the district would implement Screen and Stay on Nov. 10 at the BOE Communication Committee meeting. BPS Covid Tracing teams began meeting Nov. 11 and BPS released Screen and Stay guidance to parents and guardians on Nov. 12.

BPS notes Screen and Stay allows students to "participate in in-person learning, but not in aerosol-generating activities" such as physical education, chorus or wind instrument playing. Students in Screen and Stay will need to observe the usual quarantine period for school-sponsored sports/extracurriculars and all other non-school activities.

Those considered eligible for Screen and Stay are unvaccinated or partially vaccinated students in grades K-12 or a staff member identified as a close contact of a Covid-19 case in any of the following ways: exposure only taking place during the school day; if indoors or on school transportation, the exposure took place with both the close contact and the case wearing facial masks; if the exposure took place outdoors during a staff-monitored activity during a school period, and if the close contact remains asymptomatic.

A close contact is someone exposed to a COVID-19 case with less than 6 feet of distance between them (if in a classroom, the required distance is reduced to 3 feet), for a total of 15 minutes or for more than a 24-hour period.

Situations where a close contact is not eligible for Screen and Stay are:  Close contact to a Covid-19 case during interscholastic or other athletic activities (except physical education class); close contact during social interactions, youth sports, or other similar activities outside of school; exposure where the close contact and case were not consistently and correctly wearing masks and 6 feet of distance was not maintained; household contacts; if a close contact cannot consistently and correctly wear a mask and cannot be provided with alternative protective strategies; if a close contact cannot perform daily symptom screening; and if a close contact is a Pre-K or day care student.

Parents and guardians have been asked to review Screen and Stay information provided by the CT State Dept. Of Education, accessed by a link in the Screen and Stay announcement posted at the district website. Parents and guardians are also asked to ensure their child observes the usual quarantine in all non-school situations; perform a daily symptom assessment before the child goes to school and to keep the child in quarantine at home, and contact their school if any symptoms are experienced during the Screen and Stay monitoring period.

If contacted, parent and guardians of students eligible to participate in Screen and Stay will be asked to confirm their child's unvaccinated or partially vaccinated status and tell the contact tracer that they want their child to participate; then complete and return the Screen and Stay affirmation form. Only after receiving the district's confirmation email, the child can be sent to school, providing they remain symptom-free. Parents and guardians need to monitor their child for symptoms on a daily basis for 14 days after exposure.


Pam Johnson covers news for Branford and North Branford for Zip06. Email Pam at p.johnson@shorepublishing.com.

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