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PSB Health Reminders: November 8, 2021

The communication below provides important information from the Public Schools of Brookline. Translated versions are available at the following links:

Dear PSB Community,

We are writing with several important health updates or reminders.

COVID-19 Vaccine Clinics:

The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) have approved the Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine for children aged 5-11. This is a 2 dose vaccine, to be given 3 weeks apart. Please see the attached letter from DESE regarding the COVID-19 vaccine for children ages 5-11. There will be several ways in which families can arrange for the vaccine for their children in these age groups:

  • PSB will continue to host COVID-19 vaccination clinics. The COVID-19 vaccination clinics on Tuesday, November 9, and Wednesday, November 17 are currently full. No appointments are available at that time. If you have an appointment on one of these dates and you can no longer make it, please be sure to cancel your appointment so that we can open the spot to others.

    The next available clinic will be on Tuesday, December 14 from 4-8 pm, in the Florida Ruffin Ridley School Multipurpose Room. Registration will open at this link after November 17. We will continue to offer clinics over the next few months and are exploring the possibility of scheduling an additional clinic in December. More information will be shared once details are confirmed.

  • The Brookline Department of Public Health will hold a COVID-19 vaccine (9:00 a.m. - 12:00 p.m.) and flu (1:00 p.m - 3:00 p.m.) clinic, on Sunday, November 14 at Brookline Town Hall, 333 Washington Street. The COVID vaccine will only be available for any individuals ages 5-11 during this clinic. Parents/guardians must accompany minors. Make an appointment by registering online or calling (617)-730-2641.

  • Many of the larger pediatric offices have placed orders for the COVID-19 vaccine. Please speak with your student’s doctor about their plans to administer the vaccine once it’s made available and discuss any questions or concerns you have about the vaccine and your student. 

  • You can also visit https://vaxfinder.mass.gov/ to find a vaccine site near your home.

Finally, please provide your school nurse with a copy of the documentation once your child has received the COVID-19 vaccination. Their contact information can be found here.

 

Testing Programs:

We understand that our testing programs and the subsequent decisions and requirements can be fairly confusing. We are writing to address questions the school nurses have received with the hope of making this clear. 

  • The purpose of the DESE-sponsored Test and Stay (T&S) is to keep students (close contacts, only in the classroom school setting) in school. T&S is not available at this time to students in our extended day programs.
  • The primary purpose of the Symptomatic Testing, for individuals who become symptomatic during the school day, is to identify a positive case quickly so that contact tracing can begin. Additionally, if the test is negative, we can keep a mildly symptomatic student in school. By DESE definition, a student with more than 1 symptom is not considered to have mild symptoms.

Please keep your child (or yourself, if staff) home and get tested if any one of these symptoms occurs:

SevereSymptoms

  • Fever (100° Fahrenheit or higher), chills, or shaking chills

  • Difficulty breathing or shortness of breath

  • New loss of taste or smell

  • Muscle aches or body aches 

  • Cough (not due to other known cause,) persistent or severe cough

Please stay home and test if they have more than one of these symptoms:
(DESE states mild symptoms refer to any single (isolated) symptom below, as long as the symptom is also mild. If a symptom is severe (based on the clinical judgment of school health professionals), even if isolated, then it should not be considered a mild symptom)

MildCOVIDSymptoms

  • Sore throat 

  • Cough (not due to other known cause), mild or infrequent 

  • Nausea, Vomiting*, or Diarrhea* (*always requires staying home until symptom resolution for 24 hours), when in combination with one or more other symptoms

  • Headache when in combination with one or more other symptoms

  • Fatigue when in combination with one or more other symptoms

  • Nasal congestion or runny nose (not due to other known cause)when in combination with one or more other symptom

Positive Results

Those who test positive should be treated as a positive COVID-19 case and sent home where they must self-isolate for a minimum of 10 days.  The individual may return to school after 10 days and once they have:

  • Gone for 24 hours without a fever, and without taking fever-reducing medications and

  • Experienced improvement in other symptoms and

  • Received clearance from a public health authority

Negative Results

  • A nurse completes his/her assessment of the individual

  • If the individual has mild symptoms: This refers to any single (isolated) symptom on the list above if the symptom is also mild. If a symptom is severe (based on the clinical judgment of school health professionals), even if isolated, then it should not be considered a mild symptom.

If the symptoms worsen, even after a negative Binax test, the individual should stay home and seek medical care, and be evaluated for the need for PCR testing.

If negative test BUT student exhibits any of these symptoms:   

  • Fever (100.0° Fahrenheit or higher), chills or shaking chills

  • Difficulty breathing or shortness of breath

  • New loss of taste or smell

  • Muscle aches or body aches

  • Cough, not due to other known cause, if not mild, per nurse assessment

The student’s parent/guardian, or the staff member, should be informed that the negative test is presumptive and instruct that they follow up with their healthcare provider and we recommend PCR testing for COVID-19. They will be dismissed from school. The individual may return to school once they have: 

  • Obtained a subsequent negative PCR test for COVID-19, have an improvement in symptoms and have been without fever for at least 24 hours without the use of fever-reducing medications; or 

  • Received documentation of an alternative diagnosis from a health care provider (e.g., asthma, seasonal allergies, strep throat), and have an improvement in symptoms, and have been without fever for at least 24 hours without the use of fever reducing medications, or

  • Stayed out of school for 10 days from the start of symptoms, as long as their symptoms have improved and they have been without fever for at least 24 hours before their return to school without the use of fever-reducing medication; or

Symptomatic students must have one of the following to return to school:

  • Symptom improvement along with negative PCR test result for Covid-19, or with negative rapid antigen done in a clinic setting, OR

  • An alternative diagnosis by treating health care provider, along with symptom improvement without the need for fever-reducing medication

Symptomatic Individuals (not close contacts) who choose not to do either of the above must isolate at least 10 days from symptom onset with a return to school on day 11, assuming they have improved symptoms and been without fever for at least 24 hours without the use of fever-reducing medication.

We have had questions about the COVID-19 at-home tests that are available at local pharmacies. Home tests can be a useful tool to determine if an individual is currently infectious when planning visits or activities. However, at this time, in the school setting, COVID-19 at-home tests cannot be accepted as evidence of a negative result for individuals who have symptoms of COVID-19 whether they have been vaccinated for COVID-19 or not. If your child has COVID symptoms they must have a negative PCR test or a negative rapid antigen test done by a medical provider, or an alternative diagnosis by the healthcare provider. COVID-19 at-home tests that are positive can be accepted.  A follow-up PCR test within 48 hours is encouraged.  If the PCR result is negative, that result will supersede the antigen test.

Please see the attached, updated Contact Tracing protocol.

We understand that keeping a child home is a challenge for parents. Please respect the protocols as set forth by DESE and understand that our school nurses are required to assess our students and enforce these protocols so that our community will be as safe and healthy as possible.

Sincerely,

 

PSB Student Health Services