WARWICK, RI — Warwick schools will implement the state’s latest COVID-19 protocols on Jan. 17, according to Supt. Lynn Dambruch, a week after the RI Department of Health recommended that school departments start the new testing and quarantine standards.
Warwick Veterans Middle School shifted to distance learning Jan. 3 due to an increase in infections among students and staff. Winman School is also now distance learning, ABC 6 reports. sThe schools are providing remote instruction amid the state’s 7.2 percent COVID-19 positive rate.
The latest RIDOH guidance includes elimination of quarantine requirements for vaccinated students and staff who have been in close contact with someone else who tested positive, and shortens isolation to five days from the previous 10.
Terming the new program “Monitor to Stay,” RIDOH noted: “Our priority remains keeping children learning in person safely.”
Among the highlights of the new policy are:
- Shortening isolation and quarantine duration for students and staff to 5
- Streamlining case investigation and contact tracing for students and staff;
- Implementing the Monitor to Stay quarantine program for those students
and staff who aren’t exempt from quarantine in order to maximize in-person
- Waiving the requirement for a negative test result for close contacts to end
Students and school staff should isolate at home if they have or develop symptoms and should get tested as soon as possible, the memo explains.
RIDOH also says that anyone testing positive should isolate at home for five days, regardless of vaccination status, and can return to school on day six if they are fever-free for 24 hours and asymptomatic or their symptoms improve. The health department recommends mask-wearing at home, at school, and with others for an additional five days.
Contact tracing has also been streamlined, RIDOH explains, with local school departments responsible for identifying and notifying anyone exposed at school while the health department does the same for household contacts.
On Jan. 7, Dambruch, Director of Human Resources Kim Ruggieri, and Director of Special Service
Gary Coppolino sent a letter to Warwick school parents saying that “no written guidance to schools has been released in the form of a K-12 Playbook, which is our resource for developing district protocols.” (RIDOH last updated the Playbook on Dec. 20, 2021.)
“Until that time, we will continue to follow the policies and procedures currently in place. We are working diligently and methodically to get clear and concise guidance for the Warwick community,” the administrators wrote.
Read the full RIDOH memo below.
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