Magnified Image of COVID-19

Holyoke Public Schools has served as an exemplar in the management of COVID-19, in large part because of a strong collaboration between the district, our families, health services, and academics. As the new school year begins, it is important for that collaboration to remain strong and for everyone to know and follow the exposure and isolation guidance in effect for the 2023-24 school year.

Everyone is encouraged to stay up-to-date with vaccinations, as vaccines remain the best way to help protect ourselves and others.

When a student tests positive for COVID-19, the family notifies their child’s school nurse. Likewise, when a staff member or administrator is positive or learns of a student or staff member testing positive, they immediately notify their building nurse. 

Building nurses continue to track cases of COVID-19 (as well as influenza, RSV and other illnesses) and work closely with the local Board of Health and in consultation with the Massachusetts Department of Elementary and Secondary Education and the Department of Public Health in the ongoing management of communicable diseases across the district. 

What to do if you test positive for COVID-19?

  • Keep in mind that for COVID-19-positive cases, Day 0 is the first day of symptoms OR the day a positive test was taken, whichever is earlier.  

  • Children and staff who test positive should isolate for at least 5 days after Day 0. If they are asymptomatic or symptoms are resolving and they have been fever-free without the use of fever-reducing medicine for 24 hours, they may return to school after Day 5 and should wear a high-quality mask through Day 10 if they are able to do so.

    • If the individual has a negative test on Day 5 or later, they do not need to mask.

    • If the individual is unable to mask, they may return to programming with a negative test on Day 5 or later.

  • Contact tracing is no longer recommended or required, but the district continues to work closely with our Local Board of Health, especially in the case of outbreaks.

  • Massachusetts is not recommending universal mask requirements, surveillance testing of asymptomatic individuals, contact tracing, or test-to-stay procedures in schools. While masks are not required or recommended, any individual who wishes to continue to mask, including those who face a higher risk from COVID-19, is supported in that choice. For those who need or choose to mask, masking is never required in these settings while the individual is eating, drinking, sleeping, or outside.

Quarantine after exposure is no longer required nor recommended for children or staff, regardless of vaccination status or where the exposure occurred. All exposed individuals may continue to attend programming as long as they remain asymptomatic. Those who can mask should do so until Day 10, and it is recommended that they test on Day 6 of exposure. If symptoms develop, contact the school nurse and follow the guidance for symptomatic individuals above.  

What are the symptoms of COVID-19?

  • Fever (100.0° Fahrenheit or higher), chills, or shaking chills

  • Difficulty breathing or shortness of breath

  • New loss of taste or smell

  • Muscle aches or body aches

  • Cough (not due to other known cause, such as a chronic cough)

  • Sore throat, when in combination with other symptoms

  • Nausea and/or vomiting when in combination with other symptoms

  • Headache when in combination with other symptoms

  • Fatigue when in combination with other symptoms

  • Nasal congestion or runny nose (not due to other known causes, such as allergies) when in combination with other symptoms