In a note to the school community today, Bethel Superintendent of Schools Christine Carver said the District is working hard to keep students and staff healthy and safe. To that end, she asks that any student exhibiting symptions stay at home and contact your doctor to discuss your illness and whether it makes sense to get a COVID test. "Yesterday, the Governor announced a 3% positivity rate in the state, which is close to rates we saw last June," she says.
Read the complete note below:
Dear Parents, Guardians, Staff, and Community Members,
We hope you and your loved ones are safe and well.
We are working everyday to keep our schools open and safe. As you are aware, the State of Connecticut and the country are seeing increases in infection rates. Yesterday, the Governor announced a 3% positivity rate in the state, which is close to rates we saw last June. In general, the impact of increased positive cases across the state coupled with staff that have had to quarantine as a result of being a direct contact (with transmission occurring outside of school) is starting to have an impact on staffing levels within the schools. We are closely monitoring the data from the CT School Learning Model Indicators, which are the metrics we use to evaluate if there is “moderate risk” and we need to move our learning model back to hybrid. Fairfield County continues to be in the “low risk” learning model, but the indicators are trending to “moderate risk” levels, which favors hybrid learning. We have continually communicated the importance of having a family plan if the learning model has to be shifted.
Although we have only had a few positive cases in our schools, since our school newsletter on Friday, the Department of Public Health in Bethel is seeing increased transmissions among and within families, most often as a result of social and family gatherings. The symptoms often look and feel like a cold (cough, nasal congestion, runny nose, headache, sore throat and/or a fever). We are urging you, if you or your child has any of those symptoms to stay home and contact your medical provider to discuss your illness and whether you should get a PCR COVID-19 test. Symptomatic individuals should avoid social and family gatherings, including youth sports and activities. If you have been asked by the Department of Public Health or the schools to quarantine, please follow the quarantine guidelines outlined below. Please be sure to answer your phone or listen to your messages and not ignore incoming calls or messages as it may be a call of notification.
We have to be vigilant in the use of community mitigation efforts to keep our infection rates down, schools open and our community safe and healthy. Those mitigation strategies include:
- Wearing a mask or cloth face covering.
- Maintain social distancing.
- Monitor your health for COVID-19 symptoms and stay home if you are sick.
- Wash your hands frequently.
What is the difference between isolation and quarantine?
The CDC defines the terms as follows:
- Quarantine keeps someone who might have been exposed to the virus away from others (i.e., direct contacts).
- Isolation keeps someone who is infected with the virus (positive COVID-19 cases) away from others, even in their home. It is critical that if there is a positive COVID-19 case in a household, that they isolate themselves from the rest of the family to avoid spread.
Who is asked to quarantine?
Individuals who are identified as direct contacts (less than 6 feet for 15 minutes or more, with or without a mask) to a person who is a positive COVID-19 case are asked to quarantine for 14 days. If you are deemed a direct contact, you cannot test out of the quarantine. Remember that a negative test does not mean you do not need to quarantine for the full 14 days.
What are the guidelines for individuals who need to quarantine as a direct contact?
If you are told that you are a direct contact and need to quarantine, to prevent other members of your family from getting ill, please:
- Stay home for 14 days after your last contact with a person who is a positive COVID-19 case;
- Speak to your health care provider regarding PCR COVID-19 testing;
- Maintain social distancing in your home and wear a mask;
- Track your own health. Watch for fever (100.4◦F), cough, shortness of breath, or other symptoms of COVID-19;
- If possible, stay away from others, especially people who are at higher risk for getting very sick from COVID-19;
- Eat in separate areas;
- Avoid sharing personal items;
- Clean hands often;
- Wash and dry laundry using mask and gloves; and
- Use/line trash/garbage cans.
REMEMBER - YOU CANNOT TEST OUT OF THE 14 DAY QUARANTINE PERIOD
Speak with your doctor if you are notified that you were near a positive COVID-19 case and are now a direct contact or have COVID-19 symptoms to decide if and when it is appropriate to get a COVID-19 PCR test. Generally, your doctor will recommend COVID-19 PCR testing if you have COVID-19 symptoms and/or were notified that you were a direct contact to a positive COVID-19 case.
Do my family members need to also quarantine if I am a direct contact or a contact of a contact?
Family members of a direct contact do not need to quarantine (contact of a contact). Unless a family member meets the definition of a direct contact, they are not considered one. As an example, if your child is identified as direct contact, they would need to quarantine, but other members of the household could report to work and siblings report to school, as long as no one in the household is symptomatic.
What if I become ill during quarantine?
If you or any other household members become ill during the quarantine period, contact a health care provider for an evaluation.
What if I am asked to quarantine when a person in my household is a positive COVID-19 case?
- The person who is a positive COVID-19 case should self-isolate to the greatest extent possible.
- Your last day of quarantine is 14 days from the date the person who is a positive COVID-19 case began home isolation except in the following scenario:
- If the positive case is unable to self-isolate, like a young child, the direct contact must quarantine 14 days AFTER the date of the last exposure to the positive COVID-19 case. This could be an additional 14 days of quarantine AFTER the 10 days isolation of the positive COVID-19 case for caregivers of young children and youth.
Where can I get tested for COVID-19?
- Testing in Connecticut is free for individuals who do not have insurance.
- The CT Testing Locator will provide you information on where you can get tested.
What types of tests can I get?
- The Department of Public Health recommends the PCR COVID-19 test as it is the most accurate and sensitive.
- Antigen (Rapid Test)
- This is only reliable if it is positive.
- If there is a negative antigen test and a person is symptomatic, they will need to follow up with a PCR test.
- A COPY OF ALL COVID-19 TEST RESULTS MUST BE SENT TO YOUR CHILD’S SCHOOL NURSE
With the holiday season approaching, please remember that we need to continue to be vigilant in implementing the mitigation strategies to ensure the health of our community. As always, we ask that if your child has any symptoms, please keep them at home and contact your medical advisor.