Reopening Information: Testing & Contact Tracing

Managing students or staff who may become ill at home or at school is an important part of the BH-BL School District’s reopening plan. Information regarding how the district will handle each can be found below.

Management of ill persons, contact tracing and monitoring

The district requires students, faculty, or staff members who develop COVID-19 symptoms during the school day to report to the nurse’s office. If there are several students waiting to see the school nurse, students must wait at least 6 feet apart. The district has designated areas to separate individuals with symptoms of COVID- 19 from others until they can go home or to a healthcare facility, depending on severity of illness. One area will be used to treat injuries, provide medications or nursing treatments, and the other area will be used for assessing and caring for ill students and staff. Both areas will be supervised by an adult and have easy access to a bathroom and sink with hand hygiene supplies.

For each of the school buildings, we will designate a waiting areas that is near the nurses office that has been retrofitted with PPE to provide the isolation described above for students waiting to be sent home with symptoms of COVID-19.

PPE requirements for school health office staff caring for sick individuals includes both standard and transmission-based precautions. In areas with moderate to substantial community transmission, eye protection (e.g., goggles or face shield) should be added. When caring for a suspect or confirmed individual with COVID-19, gloves, a gown, eye protection, and a fit-tested N-95 respirator will be used, if available. If an N-95 respirator is not available, a surgical face mask and face shield will be used.

School health office cleaning will occur after each use of cots, bathrooms, and health office equipment (e.g., blood pressure cuffs, otoscopes, stethoscopes). Health office equipment will be cleaned following manufacturer’s directions.

Disposable items will be used as much as possible (e.g., disposable pillow protectors, disposable thermometers, disposable thermometer sheaths or probes, disposable otoscope specula).

Return to School after Illness

The district has established protocols and procedures, in consultation with the local health department(s), about the requirements for determining when individuals, particularly students, who screened positive for COVID-19 symptoms can return to the in-person learning environment at school. This protocol includes:

  1. Documentation from a health care provider following evaluation
  2. Negative COVID-19 diagnostic test result
  3. Symptom resolution, or if COVID-19 positive, release from isolation

The district will refer to DOH’s “Interim Guidance for Public and Private Employees Returning to Work Following COVID-19 Infection or Exposure” regarding protocols and policies for faculty and staff seeking to return to work after a suspected or confirmed case of COVID-19 or after the faculty or staff member had close or proximate contact with a person with COVID-19.

The district requires that individuals who were exposed to the COVID-19 virus complete quarantine and have not developed symptoms before returning to in-person learning. The discharge of an individual from quarantine and return to school will be conducted in coordination with the local health department.

COVID-19 Testing

The decision of whether a test needs to be conducted will be determined by the student or staff member’s physician/healthcare provider, the school physician, or official at the county department of health.

In the event that a large-scale testing will need to be conducted at the school, the district administration will consult with the School Physician Dr. Stephen Sipperley to identify a healthcare provider and to develop testing procedures.

Positive Test Communication

If there is a positive case of COVID-19 within the Burnt Hills-Ballston Lake School District (ie, faculty, student and staff), the district’s COVID Coordinator Mike Nickson will communicate with the Saratoga and Schenectady County Departments of Health to engage contact tracing protocols, which includes directly contacting potentially exposed parties. Notifications regarding follow up cases identified through contact tracing will go to the parents and staff in that building and the people identified through contact tracing. The decision to close a building will be made by the Superintendent of Schools after consultation with the county health departments in both Saratoga and Schenectady counties. Furthermore, the district will use the same notification measures it has used in the past for all communicable diseases (MRSA, Meningitis, Pertussis, etc.), which is to let the families and staff in that building know via email of a confirmed case. The district will also post this information on the website if there is a confirmed case of COVID-19 to let people know that a building has a case and to take precautions if you have had contact with someone in that building. Due to privacy laws, however, we will not disclose details about individuals who test positive for COVID-19.

Contact Tracing

The district will notify the state and local health department immediately upon being informed of any positive COVID-19 diagnostic test result by an individual within school facilities or on school grounds, including students, faculty, staff, and visitors of the district.

To assist the local health department with tracing the transmission of COVID-19, the district has developed and maintained a plan to trace all contacts of exposed individuals in accordance with protocols, training, and tools provided through the New York State Contact Tracing Program.

Districts may assist with contact tracing by:

  1. Keeping accurate attendance records of students and staff members
  2. Ensuring student schedules are up to date
  3. Keeping a log of any visitor which includes date and time, and where in the school they visited
  4. Assisting the local health departments in tracing all contacts of the individual in accordance with the protocol, training, and tools provided through the NYS Contact Tracing Program

Confidentiality must be maintained as required by federal and state laws and regulations. School staff should not try to determine who is to be excluded from school based on contact without guidance and direction from the local health department.

For more information about how COVID-19 containment efforts will be communicated to students, families and staff members, visit the Communication/Family and Community Engagement section of our reopening plan.

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