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Medical/Public Health Advisory Panel Meeting Recap - Dec. 8, 2020

On Tuesday, December 8, our Medical / Public Health Advisory Panel held a meeting to review updated recommendations regarding quarantine periods and illness symptoms, as well as discuss a timeline for returning to five-day-per-week synchronous instruction. We recognize that members of our community may not be able to watch each of these evening Zoom webinar sessions, so we are providing a recap and background information below.

 

Meeting + Decision Summary

A summary of key decisions made during last night’s meeting are outlined below. 

  • The District’s quarantine period will be reduced to 7-10 days. Individuals may end their quarantine on day 7 if they receive a negative COVID-19 test on day 6 or later. Without a negative COVID-19 test on day 6 or later, individuals must remain quarantined for 10 days from the last possible date of exposure. 

  • The District’s exclusion guidelines have been modified to exclude individuals from school and/or District programming only if they have one major or two minor symptoms, as defined below. 

  • At the next School Board meeting on Monday, December 14, 2020, the Medical/Public Health Advisory Panel will recommend the following:
    • It will be recommended that students in grades JK-5 return to five-day-per-week instruction on Monday, January 4, 2021
    • The Panel will recommend that it continue to explore allowing secondary students to return to five-day-per-week instruction on Monday, January 25, 2021, pending further discussion. 

Additional Details + Decision-Making Rationale 

Please find additional information regarding each of these decisions below, along with the supporting rationale for each.  

 

Changes to Quarantine after COVID-19 Exposure 

Based on guidance from the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) and in partnership with the Wauwatosa Health Department, the quarantine period (which is the timeframe that an individual must remain inside their home after being exposed to COVID-19) has been reduced to 7-10 days depending on if the individual in quarantine gets tested for COVID-19. 

 

After an exposure to COVID-19, individuals may return to a District building after 7 days from the last possible exposure, as long as they receive a COVID-19 test on day 6 or later and that test result is negative. Students and staff in quarantine must remain in quarantine until negative test results have been submitted and reviewed by our District Nursing Team. 

 

If testing is not conducted following an exposure, the individual must quarantine for the full 10 days from the last possible date of exposure. Individuals must continue to monitor for symptoms for a full 14 days from the last possible date of exposure. Additional details can be found here

 

Changes to Illness Symptom/Exclusion Guidelines 

Based on guidance from the Wisconsin Department of Health Services (DHS) and in partnership with the Wauwatosa Health Department, we have modified our illness symptom guidelines (also called “exclusion guidelines), which indicate the illness symptoms an individual could exhibit to be excluded from school or employment. Moving forward, we will follow COVID-19 exclusion guidelines if symptoms are consistent with COVID-19 (one major or two minor symptoms) as listed below:

 

Major Symptoms

Other Symptoms

  • Cough
  • Shortness of breath/difficulty breathing
  • New loss of taste or smell
  • Congestion or runny nose
  • Fever or chills
  • Nausea or vomiting
  • Diarrhea
  • Headache
  • Fatigue
  • Muscle or body aches
  • Sore throat 
  • Diarrhea

If symptoms are not consistent with COVID-19, then we would follow our standard illness protocols.

 

For the past several months, our District Nursing Team has been carefully monitoring any positive cases of COVID-19 that have resulted from close contact in a District building. These cases are minimal. We have seen very low transmission of COVID-19 within our District buildings, and the vast majority of individuals who did become infected typically showed symptoms well before day 14.

 

We are confident that these changes will allow us to quarantine fewer individuals for shorter lengths of time, which will support our ability to staff classrooms and allow our Phase Into Learning students to attend more synchronous learning days. 

 

Recommendation to Return to Five-Day-Per-Week Instruction

Based on the District’s COVID-19 dashboard and research conducted by our District Nursing Team, we continue to see significantly lower spread of COVID-19 within our buildings than in our community. As a District, it’s important that we apply these learnings to the decisions we make moving forward. 

 

Due to the minimal spread of COVID-19 within our buildings, and the insight of the Medical / Public Health Advisory Panel regarding infectibility of students in grades JK-5, the Panel will recommend to the Board that the elementary students begin five-day-per-week instruction on Monday, January 4, 2021. The Panel will also recommend that it continue to explore allowing secondary students to return to five-day-per-week instruction on Monday, January 25, 2021, pending further discussion. 

 

As we return to five-day-per-week instruction, Phase Into Learning students and staff will continue to follow our building usage guidelines, which include wearing masks, washing and/or sanitizing hands and maintaining physical distance to the extent possible. In addition, we will continue to utilize bipolar ionization systems, which release charged atoms that attach to and deactivate harmful substances like viruses. We will continue to thoroughly clean, sanitize and circulate air within District buildings to minimize the spread of COVID-19. 

 

Additional information will be shared following the School Board meeting on Monday, December 14, 2020.