Health Guidance and Medical Advisory Group Recommendations

  • April 2022

    A few changes have been made to the health and safety protocols in NPS school buildings. You can find the changes highlighted in the updated Health and Safety Plan document linked below:

    Health and Safety Plan - Updated April 2022

    March 2022

    The health and safety plan has been updated to reflect new mask guidance and changes to health and safety protocols in school buildings. Here is the updated plan:

    Health and Safety Plan - Updated March 2022

    On March 7, 2022, the Newton School Committee voted to rescind the mask policy in the Newton Public Schools. Beginning March 8, 2022, masks will be OPTIONAL in our K-12 school buildings.

    In this new mask-optional environment, we will emphasize personal choice and responsibility around masking. There will be many reasons students and staff continue to wear masks. There will be reasons students and staff decide not to wear a mask. All decisions will be supported and we will ask our school communities to be respectful of others’ individual choices. 

    February 2022

    The Medical Advisory Group met on February 15, 2022 to provide additional guidance to the Newton Public Schools. Here is the recommendation:

    Medical Advisory Group Recommendation - February 15, 2022

    January 2022

    The Medical Advisory Group met on January 5, 2022 to evaluate current health and safety protocols in light of the Omicron variant.

    Medical Advisory Group Recommendation - January 5, 2022 (presented January 18, 2022)

    The Department of Elementary and Secondary Education, in partnership with the Massachusetts Department of Public Health, has updated their isolation and quarantine guidance for positive cases and close contacts. You can review the new guidance here:

    Revised Isolation and Quarantine Guidance - Updated December 30, 2021.

    To view the district's most recent update on COVID health and safety protocols, please visit this link: January 2, 2022 COVID Update Newsletter 

    December 2021

    The NPS Medical Advisory Group met on Tuesday, November 9, 2021 to evaluate current data and provide recommendations on current health and safety protocols. The most recent recommendation document is here:

    Medical Advisory Group Recommendation - November 9, 2021 (presented December 6, 2021)

    The presentation to the School Committee is here: School Committee Health and Safety Update - December 2021

    The updated health and safety plan is here: Back to School Health and Safety Plan - Updated December 2021

    October 2021

    The NPS Medical Advisory Group met on Tuesday, September 28, 2021 to review, discuss, evaluate, and provide recommendations on health and safety protocols in our school buildings. Following the meeting, the group formulated an evaluation of current practices and ideas for moving forward. You can read the evaluation here:

    Medical Advisory Group Interim Evaluation - October 7, 2021.

    August 2021

    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.

    Medical Advisory Group Recommendation - August 16, 2021

    School Committee Presentation of Medical Advisory Group Recommendation

    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 parent
    Dr. 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 Health
    Dr. Karen Sadler, Pediatrician, NPS School Physician
    Dr. 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

  • On December 28, 2021, the CDC updated its guidance on the isolation time period for those who have tested positive for COVID-19. This guidance has now been adopted by the Department of Elementary and Secondary Education (DESE) and the Massachusetts Department of Public Health (DPH). 

    If you test positive for COVID-19:

    • Stay home for 5 days.
    • If you have no symptoms or your symptoms are resolving after 5 days, you can leave your home but you must continue to wear a well-fitting mask around others for 5 additional days.

    A reminder that an isolated individual is one who has tested positive for COVID; a quarantined individual is one who has been identified as a close contact but has not tested positive for COVID.

    You can review the updated DESE guidance for isolation and quarantine here: DESE Guidance for Isolation and Quarantine - Updated December 30, 2021.

    Here is a flowchart that describes scenarios for positive cases, COVID testing, and close contacts in schools: DESE FLOWCHART for COVID Scenarios in Schools (updated January 2022.)

Data Dashboard - COVID-19 Testing and Positive Cases in Schools

  • On the NPS COVID Testing Data Dashboard. you can review the percentage of students who have opted into testing, as well as the results of the weekly testing. The data dashboard can be found here: COVID Testing Data Dashboard and on our website here: COVID Testing Webpage. For information on COVID cases and vaccination rates in the Newton Public Schools, please visit this page on the City of Newton Website: Newton HHS COVID Data.

Communication Protocols for COVID-19 Cases

  • Given the changes to the testing and contact tracing protocols from the state, the communication protocol utilized when COVID cases are identified in the school has been revised. As of March 2022, the communication protocol is as follows:

    Elementary

    • Families will be notified when there is a case of COVID-19 in their student’s classroom.
    • The weekly number of COVID cases in the school will be shared in the principal’s newsletter/eblast.

    Middle and High School 

    • The weekly number of COVID cases in the school will be shared in the principal’s newsletter/eblast.

    Please note that the schools will no longer conduct contract tracing to identify close contacts. Therefore, families will not be identified if their student is a close contact of a positive COVID case.

Health and Safety Information for the 2021-22 School Year

Daily Health Assessment

How to Select and Wear Your Mask

How to select and wear your mask