January 2023 Health Recommendation
January 1, 2023
Dear NPS Families,
We hope that you have had a restful break and found time to gather with friends and family to celebrate the season.
As we prepare for the return to school on Tuesday, January 3, 2023, we are, as always, prioritizing the health and safety of our school community. Prior to the break, we experienced a rise in absences for both students and staff due to cases of flu, COVID, RSV, and other respiratory illnesses. We expect we may continue to see increases in illnesses following the break as well.
Therefore, in consultation with Newton Health and Human Services, we strongly recommend that all staff and students wear face coverings for the first two weeks of school following the break. This recommendation is made in an effort to keep our students in school learning and to keep our classrooms and buildings operating with safe and appropriate staffing.
As a reminder, there are steps we can take to prevent the unnecessary spread of respiratory illness. Please keep your student home if they are sick. If they have symptoms, Newton HHS recommends you get tested for flu and COVID-19 and talk with your healthcare provider about treatment options. In addition, to help keep our school community healthy, please encourage the following:
Practice good hand hygiene. Cover coughs and sneezes with a tissue, or if a tissue is not available, cover them with an elbow, not a hand.
Clean high-touch surfaces. NPS will continue its practice of cleaning high-touch surfaces in our classrooms and buildings. Disinfecting high-touch surfaces like doorknobs is crucial to prevent illness.
Wear a face covering. Wearing a mask protects against respiratory droplets and is effective in preventing COVID-19.
Avoid exposure to people who are sick. In addition, please keep your student home if sick.
Thank you for your efforts in making our schools safe, healthy, and ready to learn!
Newton Public Schools
Increase in Respiratory Illnesses and How to Prevent
The Commonwealth, the Northeast and much of the US are seeing increases in respiratory illness in infants and children. Infants and children may be particularly susceptible to seasonal respiratory viral infections during the 2022-2023 fall and winter because they have had limited previous exposure to these respiratory viruses.
The Department of Public Health and the Massachusetts Chapter of the American Academy of Pediatrics want to remind parents and families about steps to take to prevent illness and stay healthy this season:
- Vaccinate your children ages 6 months and older against influenza
- Vaccinate your children ages 6 months and older against COVID-19
- Remember, you can get a COVID-19 vaccine and flu shot at the same time
- Practice hand hygiene
- Clean high touch surfaces
- Keep children home from daycare or school who have fever, especially with a cough
- Avoid social gatherings if you or your children are ill
For the full letter from Massachusetts Department of Public Health and the Massachusetts Chapter of the American Academy of Pediatric, visit:
COVID Health and Safety - 2022-23 School Year
In this section, you will find protocols, guidelines, and information on COVID health and safety for the 2022-23 school year. Information recently published includes:
2022-23 NPS COVID Health and Safety Plan
Notification of COVID Cases in Schools
For the 2022-23 school year, NPS families may be notified of COVID cases if a cluster of infections emerges at a school. Guidance from the Medical Advisory Group is as follows:
"Decisions about notifying individuals about exposure to a case or cases should be left to the judgment of the school nurses. The most likely situation in which the school nurse would notify is when a cluster of three or more cases have occurred in a setting where close exposure might result in secondary cases."
The assessment of the cluster, impacted populations, and notification process will be similar to other communicable disease outbreaks in schools, such as flu and strep throat. School health staff will work with school and district leadership to share timely and actionable information.
Schools will no longer send notifications of COVID cases in classrooms or teams, nor will principals share the total number of COVID cases in a school at the end of each week. Families may check the Newton HHS COVID Data webpage for information on known COVID cases in the city.