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AIS HoS eCommuniqué – COVID-19 Reminders & Updates

January 07, 2022
By Jacques A. Weber

Dear AIS Community,

We have received several reports of AIS community members who have contracted COVID-19 during the break as well as some this week. First and foremost, we wish those who have come down with the illness a very speedy recovery. These cases are a reminder that each member of the Austin International School community has a critical role to play in protecting the health and safety of all our community members.

I continue to meet with health authorities on a weekly basis so that we can operate in the most informed and prudent manner possible. In light of the City of Austin’s move to Stage 5 and the continued spread of COVID-19 in our community, I am writing to you today with some important reminders and updates regarding school operations during the ongoing pandemic.

REMINDER: DO NOT SEND SYMPTOMATIC STUDENTS TO SCHOOL
At the beginning of the school year, we required all families to carefully read and sign the Health and Safety Protocol Family Acknowledgement Form. It is important that parents and guardians not send children to school who are showing any symptoms listed in this document, including:

  • Fever or chills
  • Cough
  • Shortness of breath
  • Difficulty breathing
  • Fatigue
  • Headache
  • New loss of smell or taste
  • Sore throat
  • Congestion or runny nose
  • Nausea or vomiting
  • Diarrhea
  • Feeling feverish or a measured temperature greater than or equal to 100.0°F (37.8°C)
  • Shaking or exaggerated shivering
  • Significant muscle pain or ache

Sending a child to school who is exhibiting any of the above symptoms places other members of the AIS community at risk, which is unacceptable. Please ensure that you speak to your child's pediatrician and that you get a doctor's note with a clear return-to-school date indicated. Any student who arrives to school without a doctor's note and who is exhibiting any of the above symptoms will be separated from the class and should be picked up within 30 minutes (but no later than 1 hour). 

UPDATE: REVISED CDC GUIDELINES
Yesterday evening, the CDC updated guidance for K-12 schools, which includes changes to isolation (for individuals who are COVID-positive) and quarantine (for individuals who have close contact with a COVID-positive person). I have spent a large part of the day working with our local health authorities to revise the new operational policies for the school. Ultimately, my goal will always be to find the most appropriate balance between minimizing disruption to in-person learning and prioritizing the health and safety of all community members.

UPDATE: ISOLATION FOR COVID-POSITIVE INDIVIDUALS
If a member of the community has a positive viral test (antigen or PCR), regardless of whether or not they have symptoms, they MUST isolate. Community members with symptoms of COVID-19, including people who are awaiting test results, MUST isolate; people with symptoms should isolate even if they do not know if they have been in close contact with someone with COVID-19.

Any COVID-positive individual must isolate for AT LEAST 5 full days. Day 0 is the day symptoms began or the day of the positive test result (for asymptomatic individuals).

For individuals with no symptoms of COVID-19:

  • If they continue to have no symptoms, they can end isolation after at least 5 days. A report of a negative viral test (antigen or PCR) AND a doctor’s note is required to return to school.
  • They must continue to wear a well-fitting mask AT ALL TIMES when around others on days 6-10. If a masked is removed to eat or drink, then the individual must be at least 6’ away from others. If the individual is unable to wear a well-fitting mask at all times when around others, then they must complete a 10-day isolation.
  • If they develop symptoms, the 5-day isolation period will start over; day 0 will be the first day of symptoms.

 For individuals with symptoms of COVID-19:

  • They can end isolation after 5 full days if they are fever-free for 24 hours without the use of fever-reducing medication and other symptoms have improved (loss of taste and smell may persist for weeks or months after recovery and need not delay the end of isolation). A viral test (antigen or PCR) AND a doctor’s note is required to return to school.
  • They must continue to wear a well-fitting mask AT ALL TIMES when around others on days 6-10. If a masked is removed to eat or drink, then the individual must be at least 6’ away from others. If the individual is unable to wear a well-fitting mask at all times when around others, then they must complete a 10-day isolation.
  • If they continue to have fever or other symptoms have not improved after 5 days of isolation, they should wait to end isolation until they are fever-free for 24 hours without the use of fever-reducing medication and their other symptoms have improved.

UPDATE: QUARANTINE FOR CLOSE CONTACTS
Our school will work carefully to conduct contact tracing for confirmed or suspected cases of COVID-19 on campus. The CDC definitions of close contacts in the K-12 setting are presented in this APH infographic.

In the case of an established close contact, no quarantine is required for individuals:

  • ages 18 or older who have received all recommended vaccine doses, including boosters
  • ages 5-17 years and completed the primary series of COVID-19 vaccines
  • who had confirmed COVID-19 within the last 90 days (i.e., tested positive using a viral test).

Quarantine is required for individuals:

  • ages 18 or older who completed the primary series of recommended vaccine, but have not received a recommended booster shot when eligible
  • who are not vaccinated or have not completed a primary vaccine series.

If a community member has a close contact and must quarantine, the following is required:

  • Seek a viral test (PCR or antigen) as soon as possible (preferably the same day they are notified) and provide the report of the test to the school to assist with contact tracing.
  • Stay home and away from other people for at least 5 days (day 0 through day 5) after their last close contact with a person who has COVID-19. The date of exposure is considered day 0.
  • For 10 days after their last close contact to someone with COVID-19, watch for fever (100.4°F or greater), cough, shortness of breath, or other COVID-19 symptoms.
  • If they develop symptoms, get tested immediately and isolate until they receive their test results. If they test positive, follow isolation recommendations listed above.
  • If they do not develop symptoms, then they will be able to return to school through a Test to Stay (TTS) protocol. To do this, they must get tested at least 5 days after they last had close contact with someone with COVID-19.
    • If they test negative, they may return to school by providing the report of the negative viral test. As part of the TTS requirements, a second negative viral test report is required two days later the last test; without this, the individual will not be permitted to return to school. During the TTS period, the individual must continue to wear a well-fitting mask AT ALL TIMES when around others until 10 days after their last close contact with someone with COVID-19. If a mask is removed to eat or drink, then the individual must be at least 6’ away from others. If the individual is unable to wear a well-fitting mask at all times when around others, then they must complete a full, 10-day quarantine.
    • If they test positive, they should isolate for at least 5 days from the date of their positive test. Follow recommendations in the isolation section above.

UPDATE: TESTING AT SCHOOL
Unfortunately, after a change to the state's testing program, our school has been impacted by the national shortage of tests, and we have been unable to provide testing to the broader community. Today, we were connected with a new list of third-party providers who will be able to help us restock our tests in the coming weeks. We appreciate your patience as we work to replenish our supply so that we can provide quick and easy rapid testing on campus.

REMINDER: YES, IT’S ALL CONFUSING! BUT WE’RE HERE TO HELP!
If you’re feeling confused by all the above, then you’re in a big boat with a lot of people! As health experts collect more data, they will revise guidance and protocols for schools. I am committed to working closely with our teams of experts to seek clarification and operate through the most prudent measures that allow us to keep in-person learning for our students. In the event of a COVID-positive case or a close contact, a member of my team or I will reach out to you to go over the isolation/quarantine requirements, including specific dates.

MERCI, THANK YOU, and GRACIAS for your continued commitment to the health and safety of our entire AIS community. If I can be of any additional support, please don’t hesitate to reach out at any time.

Have a safe and wonderful weekend!

Sincerely,

Jacques

Mr. Jacques A. Weber, M.Ed.
Head of School/Chef d'Établissement

Posted in Communiqués