Medical Advisory Group Recommendations
Below please find the recommendation of the Medical Advisory Group to the Newton Public Schools for the start of the 2021-22 school year. You will also find a link to the School Committee presentation at which this recommendation was presented.
Key points from the recommendation include:
- Vaccination: All eligible faculty, staff and students should be vaccinated.
- Universal Masking: All school personnel, visitors and students, regardless of age or vaccination status, should wear masks covering their nose and mouth at all times while indoors and when riding on school buses.
- Routine COVID Screening Testing: Weekly testing should be offered to asymptomatic unvaccinated and vaccinated individuals.
Medical Advisory Group
The Superintendent convened the Ad Hoc Medical Advisory Group to advise and make recommendations on issues of health and safety as NPS actively plans for a full return to in person learning this fall. The Superintendent brings relevant questions to the Advisory Group, which meets to discuss these questions, come to consensus, and create a set of recommendations for the Superintendent. These recommendations, as well as meeting minutes, are shared with the NPS planning teams, the School Committee, NPS staff, parents/guardians, and the community at large.Medical Advisory Group Members:Dr. Brenda Anders Pring, Pediatrician, HHS Advisory Board, NPS parentDr. Ashish Jha, Dean of the School of Public Health at Brown University, Professor of Health Services, Policy, and Practice
Dr. Jodi Larson, Internal Medicine, Chief Quality and Experience Officer, Newton-Wellesley Hospital, NPS parent
Dr. Sandra Nelson, Infectious Disease Specialist, Mass General Hospital
Dr. Eric Rubin, Adjunct Professor of Immunology and Infectious Diseases, Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public HealthDr. Karen Sadler, Pediatrician, NPS School PhysicianDr. Oneeka Williams, Urologic Surgeon, Assistant Clinical Professor of Urology at Tufts University School of Medicine
Dr. Dori Zaleznik, Infectious Disease Specialist, former Chief Administrative Officer, HHS Commissioner and School Committee member
Protocols for Responding to COVID-19 in Schools
The Massachusetts Department of Elementary and Secondary Education (DESE) has issued these protocols for responding to COVID-19 scenarios: Protocols for Responding to COVID-19 in Schools. The protocols provide information on isolation and quarantine for infected individuals, as well as individuals identified as close contacts. DESE has also provided districts with flowcharts to help families better understand when their student will stay in school, when they will be sent home, and when they may return to school following COVID illness or exposure. Here are the Flowcharts for Responding to COVID-19 Infection and/or Exposure.
Highlights of the DESE protocols are noted below, but please refer to the protocols linked above for complete information.
- All individuals who test positive for COVID-19 must isolate for a minimum of 10 days after symptom onset (or specimen collection date if asymptomatic). Return to school should be based on time and symptom resolution. Repeat testing prior to return is not recommended.
- Close contacts are defined as individuals who have been within 6 feet of a COVID-19 positive individual while indoors, for at least 15 minutes during a 24-hour period. This definition applies even if both the close contact and the case are wearing face coverings.
- Some close contacts are EXEMPT from quarantine and testing protocols:
- Asymptomatic, fully vaccinated close contacts (symptomatic fully vaccinated individuals should stay home and get tested).
- A close contact who is exposed to a COVID-19 positive individual in the classroom while both individuals were masked, so long as the individuals were spaced at least 3 feet apart.
- Bus close contacts, so long as both individuals were masked and windows were open.
- Close contacts who have had COVID-19 within the past 90 days.
- Asymptomatic close contacts who do not develop symptoms and do not meet any of the above exemptions will do one of the following:
- Participate in the Test and Stay testing protocol to stay in school
- Quarantine at home for 7 days returning to school with a negative PCR test
- Quarantine at home for 10 days returning to school without a test.
- Symptomatic individuals who experience COVID-19 symptoms may return to school with a negative PCR test, alternative medical diagnosis, and improvement of symptoms/fever-free for 24 hours.
School nurses will provide schools and families specific information on isolation and quarantine protocols following a COVID diagnosis or identification as a close contact. Please refer to the protocols linked above for complete information.
Data Dashboard - COVID-19 Testing and Positive Cases in Schools
The Newton Public Schools is in the process of rolling out weekly COVID testing for students and staff. Once theh program is launched, you will be able to view a data dashboard of the number of tests conducted, the number of students and staff eligible, and the number of positive cases. The link will be here when it is active.