Updated information on COVID-19 Response Protocols (as of 1/14/22)

January 14, 2022

Dear Families,

This email is to briefly summarize Milestones’ policy for responding to COVID-19 in light of updated COVID-19 protocols from DESE (effective: 12/30/21) and after significant ongoing consultation with the Waltham Board of Health and our consulting physician’s office during our first two weeks back at school as it relates to our specific student population and school community. Practices are subject to change based on evolving guidance from DESE/DPH and consulting agencies.

Symptomatic Students (both vaccinated and unvaccinated)

  • Attestation:  No changes from the current practice.  In accordance with DESE guidelines for symptomatic individuals, continue to monitor your student’s daily health attestations and keep your student home if they are ill.  Contact the School Nurse who will guide you through any required testing and/or physician follow-up in accordance with DESE protocols.

  • Negative Test Result: If your student tests negative for COVID-19 but symptoms continue, please share the negative test result and consult with the School Nurse.  Depending on the symptom presentation, students may be cleared to return or directed to stay home until symptoms improve.  If symptoms persist or worsen, physician-follow up is advised and repeat PCR testing may be requested.

  • Positive Test Result: If your student tests positive, notify the School Nurse and DESE allows your student to be approved for remote instruction in accordance with the isolation protocol.

  • Acceptable Tests: PCR tests remain the gold standard for reliability and sensitivity. However, in accordance with revised DESE/DPH guidance, Milestones will accept PCR or rapid antigen tests for initial symptom rule-out due to test accessibility if a student is not a close contact.  If a student is symptomatic and a nonexempt close contact (e.g. not fully vaccinated), DESE directs a PCR rather than an antigen test.  A copy of the test result (or picture of a home-based rapid test that is not administered by a medical professional, when permitted) should be sent to the School Nurse for school clearance.

Individuals Who Test Positive for COVID-19

  • With the support of our consulting physician’s office and the Waltham Board of Health based on our specific student population’s risk factors, Milestones is continuing to apply a 10 day isolation period for students, returning on day 11 if symptoms have resolved.  Milestones’ policy exceeds the minimum guideline duration permitted by DESE/DPH for the safety of our school community.

  • All students who are isolating are approved by DESE to receive live synchronous remote instruction.

Exempt Close Contacts

  • Criteria:  No changes to DESE/DPH’s exemption criteria which has remained consistent since their fall guidance (effective: 8/13/21 – (1) asymptomatic and fully vaccinated; (2) diagnosed with COVID-19 in the last 90 days and is recovered and asymptomatic; (3) bus close contacts if federal regulations are met; (4) exposure occurring only in the classroom while both parties were masked and at least 3 feet apart).

  • Exemption: As before, exempt close contacts are permitted to continue with onsite instruction as long as they remain asymptomatic. If asymptomatic, testing is not required but is recommended by DESE/DPH at day 5 or later after exposure.   If students develop symptoms, per DESE guidelines, they must stay home and pursue rule-out testing.

  • New update for household and community-exposed exempt contacts:  Milestones received conscientious requests from parents of exempt students whose students were exposed outside of school.  They wanted their students to participate in remote instruction rather than onsite instruction if they were advised by the student’s physician and/or local Boards of Health to have the student quarantine outside of school to reduce the likelihood of transmission to others at school.  Students’ local Boards of Health, for example, may advise close contacts who are 6+ months past their second vaccine dose and not yet boosted or who experience continued exposure in their household to quarantine. DESE approved our request to offer remote instruction as an alternative to families in this individualized community-based exposure scenario.

Nonexempt Close Contacts

  • As a reminder, asymptomatic fully vaccinated students are exempt from out of school quarantine/testing protocols. Pursuing vaccination and boosters (when eligible) remains strongly recommended for maximum risk reduction for oneself and others.

  • With the support of our consulting physician’s office and Waltham Board of Health, nonexempt close contacts who have been exposed outside of school will continue to be directed to quarantine outside of school for 10 days from the last exposure, returning on day 11 if they do not develop symptoms or test positive.  Testing is strongly recommended at day 5 or later.

  • As of now, if exposure occurs only at school, nonexempt close contacts will have two options.

  • (1)  Students may be approved by our School Nurse to shorten the out of school quarantine to 7 days, returning on day 8 if they produce a negative PCR or antigen test result taken on day 5 or after and remain symptom free.  This includes an expectation  that students will be encouraged to diligently mask when not eating/drinking, self-monitor for symptoms through day 10, and isolate if symptoms develop.

  • (2) Without a negative test result taken 5+ days after exposure, the student must quarantine outside of school for 10 days, returning on day 11 if they do not present with symptoms. Milestones is in the process of exploring a test-and-stay option if exposure occurs at school;  we will update families about this consent-based option once we are ready to implement.

  • All nonexempt close contacts who are directed by the school to quarantine offsite are approved by DESE to receive live synchronous remote instruction.

We would like to commend families for continuing to pursue vaccination and boosters for your students, as we received many updated cards since returning to school after the New Year! Below are additional updates:

  • Booster Eligibility for ages 12+: Children ages 12+ who are 5 months past their final initial dose are now eligible and encouraged for boosters!

  • Vaccination Cards:  Please continue to send copies of new or newly updated vaccination cards (e.g: completed boosters) to our School Nurse: lross@advancingmilestones.com so that Milestones can maintain up to date records for our school community.

  • Ongoing Duty for Families to Report Cases and Exposures to Milestones:  All families should continue to directly notify our School Nurse regarding positive cases as well as close contact exposures for all students.

  • Stay Tuned For Additional Information Next Week on School-Based Testing: Milestones briefly announced at today’s PAG meeting that our Task Force/Board of Directors is moving toward offering optional state-sponsored school-based testing. We anticipate that our Project Coordinator, Heidi Warren, will have information to share from the state program next week regarding options and consents for participation.  Any related questions will be answered at that time.

It was a pleasure to connect with families at this morning’s PAG meeting, and thank you for your attention.

Have a nice long weekend!