January 20, 2022
Dear Parents/Guardians, Students, and Staff Members,
The federal government is providing four free at-home COVID-19 test kits for each household. You can obtain your free at-home test kits through the following link: https://www.covidtests.gov/. You will need to provide a valid email address, your name and home address. You will receive a confirmation that your order for your four free at-home COVID-19 test kits are on the way to your address. These kits will allow you to test when you have been identified as a close contact, have symptoms that are similar to COVID-19, or when you believe you may have been exposed to COVID-19.
We wish to inform you that we have recently received information regarding confirmed cases of COVID-19 for individuals at:
- Brayton Elementary School (0)
- Colegrove Park Elementary School (3)
- Greylock Elementary School (1)
- Drury High School (10)
Every individual with a potential exposure has been contacted and given instructions on the course of action they need to take according to the Department of Elementary and Secondary Education guidelines regarding quarantine, including self-isolating and testing. Please note that all information, including the name(s) of ill persons, regarding any Public Health investigation is confidential and cannot be shared in order to protect patient privacy.
The district has coordinated with the Department of Public Health and will follow all recommendations. If you have questions or concerns, please do not hesitate to contact the Nurse Leader for the district, Amanda Davis, at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Parents/guardians whose asymptomatic child has been identified as a close contact can elect to have their child participate in the “test and stay” program and not have to quarantine. In the “test and stay” program, students with parental consent are tested daily for 7 consecutive days using the BinaxNow Rapid Results test. As long as the student remains asymptomatic and has a negative test result for each of the required days, the student can remain in school. Parents/guardians can provide consent by participating in the COVID Surveillance Testing Program (see information below).
The Commissioner of the Department of Elementary and Secondary Education has announced an extension of the requirements for mask wearing in schools through February 28, 2022. The 80% vaccination threshold remains in effect for school committee consideration for application to the Department for exiting this requirement. However, the school committee approved policy for mask wearing in schools remains in effect and will not be considered rescinded until the mask mandate has expired. Currently, the CDC recommends a KN-95 mask or double masking in areas where there is widespread infection rates. Exceptions to mask wearing in school are as follows:
- Masks are not required when outdoors.
- Masks are not required when eating or drinking.
- Masks are not required during mask breaks.
- Masks may be removed indoors when necessary to participate in elective classes, such as wind instrument instruction.
Masks must be worn by anyone entering a school or for any sports related activity in alignment with the guidance from the Massachusetts Interscholastic Athletic Association (MIAA). By federal order, all students must wear a mask entering, during and exiting the school bus. Unvaccinated students and staff should wear their masks at all times. Masks should be provided by the student/family, but disposable masks will continue to be available by the school for students who need them. Masks should be fitted to cover the students mouth and nose. For more information about appropriate mask use go to the CDC website.
COVID- 19 Symptoms
If you or your child develops any symptoms associated with COVID-19, it is important that you stay home and schedule a test to confirm your illness. If your child is identified as sick in school, you will be called to come and pick your child up during the school day.
Symptoms may appear 2-14 days after exposure to the virus. People with these symptoms may have COVID-19:
- Fever or chills or shaking chills
- Persistent cough
- Shortness of breath or difficulty breathing
- New loss of taste or smell
- Muscle or body aches
In addition, if a student has any combination of the symptoms below please contact your child’s pediatrician regarding the potential of a COVID-19 infection:
- Sore throat
- Congestion or runny nose
- Nausea or vomiting
Look for emergency warning signs for COVID-19. If someone is showing any of these signs, seek emergency medical care immediately:
- Trouble breathing
- Persistent pain or pressure in the chest
- New confusion
- Inability to wake or stay awake
- Bluish lips or face
Call your medical provider for any other symptoms that are severe or concerning to you.
Students 5 years old and older can be vaccinated. If the student is under the age of 18, they must have a parent or guardian present to authorize the vaccination. Northern Berkshire Pediatrics patients can obtain vaccination appointments by calling the office (413-663-8365). Those who are not Northern Berkshire Pediatrics patients can of course still be vaccinated, these individuals can obtain a vaccination at any of the sites located throughout the state.
Anyone aged 12 years old or older is eligible to receive a booster shot. To determine your eligibility and to schedule an appointment, please go to https://www.mass.gov/covid-19-vaccine for more information.
COVID Surveillance Testing
North Adams Public Schools has implemented a voluntary free weekly COVID-19 testing program to help keep our staff, students and community safe and help prevent the spread of COVID-19. Regular COVID-19 testing of students and staff will help us lower the risk of the disease in our school by finding and isolating individuals who have COVID-19 quickly, even before, or if , they show symptoms. The weekly COVID-19 testing program is just another way we are striving to keep our school environment safe for everyone. Please provide consent for your child to participate in this valuable program. You need to provide an updated consent for the 2021-2022 school year, even if your child participated in the testing program during the 2020-2021 school year.
The consent form is available on the district website at https://www.napsk12.org/page/c....
Stay safe by remembering to wear your masks indoors and to wash your hands often!
Dr. Barbara Malkas
Superintendent of North Adams Public Schools