Dear Northfield School District Families:
This update contains important information regarding the district’s Test to Stay program, an update to our quarantine protocol, and an update about how we share general exposure notifications with families.
As predicted, the number of COVID-19 cases both locally and in the county have risen significantly since December due to the Omicron variant. We have also seen an increase in the number of students absent due to influenza-like illness throughout the district. We continually monitor this situation and consult regularly with public health, an epidemiologist, the incident command team, and district administrators about our district situation. We understand that the increase in COVID-19 cases due to the Omicron variant can cause trepidation. As you know, we are using numerous protocols to keep our students and staff as safe as practicable while prioritizing uninterrupted in-person learning.
Test to Stay
We will implement our Test to Stay program on Thursday, January 13, 2022. This voluntary program will allow students who would have been required to quarantine because they were identified as close contacts at school to remain in school by testing negative for COVID-19 on day two and on day five during what would have been their quarantine period. The definition of a close contact at school is being unmasked and within six feet of someone who has tested positive for COVID-19 for 15 minutes or more. The Test to Stay program is not available to those who have had close contact with someone outside of school who has tested positive for COVID-19.
If your student is not fully vaccinated, has not had a positive COVID-19 test that was reported to the school in the last 90 days, and you do not want to participate in the voluntary Test to Stay program, your student is required to quarantine for five days and must submit a negative COVID-19 test before returning to school.
Test to Stay will not be immediately available for our early childhood programs held at the Northfield Community Education Center or Spring Creek Elementary. Spring Creek will begin this program on Jan. 19, 2022. The NCEC will begin the program at a date to be determined based on staffing levels.
Isolation after COVID-19
Last week, the CDC announced a change to its guidance for quarantine and isolation protocols in K-12 schools.
The new guidance allows for schools to use a five day isolation period for students and staff who have tested positive for COVID-19. In our district, this change means students and staff who test positive for COVID-19 can now return to school on the sixth after their positive test date as long as they test negative using a rapid antigen COVID-19 test and their symptoms are improving before returning to school.
If your student is currently isolating because of a COVID-19 test result, please wait to hear from the school regarding your new return-to-school date.
Students who have recently tested positive and those quarantining due to a close contact at at Spring Creek will continue to use their existing return-to-school date due to the higher percentage of cases at that school. We will begin using the five day isolation period at Spring Creek beginning on Jan. 19.
The shortened COVID-19 isolation period will not be immediately available for our early childhood programs held at the Northfield Community Education Center.
General Exposure Notifications
The district is shifting its general COVID-19 exposure notification process due to the recent surge in cases. Rather than receiving an email message if your student was in a classroom where a classmate tested positive for COVID-19, we will provide updates via the district’s COVID-19 website.
Any student who is considered a close contact at school will still be individually notified by school staff.
Thank you for your continued support and partnership. I value the relationships the district has with our students, parents, and guardians. As always, please don’t hesitate to contact me if you have questions or concerns about Northfield Public Schools!
Matt Hillmann, Ed.D.
Superintendent of Schools