Cynthia Carbone, MEd, MSN, RN, Director of Health, Wellness, & Nursing
Following federal and state guidelines, Holyoke Public Schools is now focusing its COVID-19 mitigation strategies on vulnerable and symptomatic individuals, while minimizing the need for more restrictive districtwide COVID policies. Accordingly, the district no longer requires face masks be worn at school other than in the school health offices. HPS has also ended its surveillance testing of asymptomatic individuals, contact tracing, and test-to-stay programs in schools.
HPS fully supports any individual who wishes to continue to mask for any reason, even though masks are no longer required.
Massachusetts has released revised isolation guidance for students and staff, which includes the following:
- Quarantine is no longer required or recommended for children or staff in school settings, regardless of vaccination status. All exposed individuals are permitted to be at school 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. (Day 0 is the first day of symptoms OR the day the positive test was taken, whichever is earlier.)
- Children and staff who test positive must isolate for at least 5 days. 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 the person has a negative test on Day 5 or later, they do not need to mask.
- If the person is unable to mask, they may return to programming with a negative test on Day 5 or later.
- Symptomatic individuals can remain at school if they have mild symptoms, are tested immediately onsite, and that test is negative. Best practice would also include wearing a mask, if possible, until symptoms are fully resolved. For symptomatic individuals, DPH recommends a second test within 48 hours if the initial test is negative.
- If the symptomatic individual cannot be tested immediately, they should be sent home and allowed to return to school if symptoms remain mild and they test negative, or they have been fever-free for 24 hours without the use of fever-reducing medication and their symptoms are resolving, or if a medical professional makes an alternative diagnosis. A negative test is strongly recommended for return.
If you have any questions, please contact your building nurse.
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, 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