COVID-19 FAQs from Nassau and Suffolk County Dept. of Health
Nassau and Suffolk County Departments of Health (DOH) understand that school districts in our community face many complex challenges upon reopening. The following Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs), we hope will assist school districts and communities as we head to towards the beginning of school year. These FAQs were published in September, 2020 and are subject to change as more information is learned and guidance is provided by New York State. https://suffolkcountyny.gov/Departments/Health-Services/Health-Bulletins/Novel- Coronavirus/SCDHS-COVID19-Guidance-and-Services
1. What are the recommended protocols if a student tests positive?
Student should immediately be placed on isolation at home for at least 10 days. School staff should assist the local health department in contact tracing efforts by providing a list of probable close contacts. The identification of close contacts should begin 48 hours before the student became symptomatic, or 48 hours before the student was tested for the COVID-19 virus if asymptomatic. Identified close contacts should also remain at home for 14 days of quarantine from the date of last exposure to the infected student.
If during a case interview, the DOH identifies that case as a student in school, we would reach out to the school administration to inform them of the positive case and conduct contact tracing. If it is rapid antigen test, the student/family may get the result before the DOH. In that situation, we would expect the medical office that ordered the test to reach out to us, or perhaps the family. If the school district is aware of a positive test among its students or staff, but has not heard from the DOH, please reach out to us so that we can confirm this case. Case investigation/contact tracing would then proceed after NCDOH or SCDOH is notified.
SCDOH and NCDOH are responsible for case investigation and contact tracing in their counties. School districts should support case investigation and contact tracing efforts by confirming attendance, sharing rosters, etc. Case investigations are typically done within 24 hours of receipt of a positive test result. School districts should have plans in place related to community notification and operations while investigations are underway. SCDOH and NCDOH provide isolation or quarantine orders to all cases and contacts in their respective counties. In addition, those under isolation or quarantine will be monitored daily. When the isolation or quarantine period has ended, a letter from the local health department confirming release will be provided to each case and contact. Students and/or staff can provide the letter to their school district to return.
Contact tracing and quarantining of close contacts is initiated upon receipt of a positive test result. In addition, only contacts of the case are quarantined, not contacts of contacts.
2. What are recommended protocols if a staff member tests positive?
Similar to the question above, the staff member should be under home isolation for at least 10 days, with contact tracing as outlined above. We elicit current employment on case investigation and would reach out to the school when we find out. In addition, please note that each DOH investigates its own county cases. Confirmed cases in faculty, staff and administrators that live outside the school’s county will be investigated by the jurisdiction in which they reside. In these cases, please know that Nassau and Suffolk County Departments of Health will work together.
3. What are the recommended protocols for a symptomatic student on a bus?
Local health department would not be involved for symptoms only; we would only begin an investigation based on a positive virus test. If the student tests positive, any close contacts of the student, (including those on the same bus) may be subject to quarantine.
4. What are the recommended protocols for suspected cases of COVID-19?
Students and staff with symptoms of illness should not attend school. It is recommended that individuals and/or families consult their medical provider to determine if COVID-19 testing is warranted. Note: notification and contact tracing is initiated upon receipt of a positive COVID-19 test result. No action is taken for suspected cases. Students and staff who test positive for COVID- 19 should follow the established CDC/NYS DOH guidelines for ending isolation. All residents who test positive are monitored daily by the DOH contact tracing staff and will receive a letter from their DOH confirming release from isolation.
Students and staff with other illnesses (e.g., cold, flu, strep throat, etc.) should follow existing school policy for return and consult with their medical provider for guidance.
5. What should someone do while waiting a pending COVID-19 result?
Staff as well as students who have been tested for COVID-19 or who have signs and symptoms of COVID-19, should remain at home and not come to school until results are known. A positive result will require additional isolation of the case and close contacts elicited as described above. Quarantine and/or notification will be determined by the local health department in conjunction with the school district. Laboratory testing may take days until results are determined.
6. To what extent must students/staff quarantine/isolate after:
A singular positive case?
Identified close contacts (students and/or staff) should be placed on quarantine for 14 days from date of last contact. NCDOH and SCDOH recommend that close contacts get tested for COVID-19.
This would be more complicated, depending on if they are in the same cohort (a cluster), or positives in multiple cohorts (an outbreak). Those in a cluster would isolate at home, and a presumably small number of identified close contacts would quarantine at home. An outbreak across multiple cohorts would involve a larger number of people identified as close contacts, and thus more of the student population under quarantine. This would require coordination with NYS DOH in addition to the school district.
7. Should isolation occur within singular classroom? Grade level? Building? District?
Isolation would apply to the person who tests positive. Any close contacts identified for quarantine will likely be in the same classroom or lunchroom. Schools should try to limit the number of cohorts to the greatest extent possible. For most children that number is going to be at least two, the bus and the classroom.
8. If an elementary student tests positive and the students within the class/cohort are all in masks and 6 feet apart in class must the class be quarantined?
This scenario would need to be decided on a case-by-case basis. There would be many factors considered including age of students, time spent in the classroom, size of the classroom, etc. If all were wearing face coverings and practicing social distancing, the likelihood that further positive cases are identified from that cohort is minimal. These individuals might be considered proximate contacts and should be monitored for signs and symptoms but may not part of the contact tracing effort. The school districts may decide to make notifications to their students and staff in the classroom or building who are not close contacts.
9. If the spouse of a faculty member presents with a positive COVID test, for how long should the employee isolate? Should a negative test be required to return to work?
The employee would be considered a close contact of the spouse, and would be subject to quarantine for 14 days from date of last contact with the spouse. The employee may return to work after completion of the quarantine period; no test is necessary unless the employee develops symptoms.
10. If a faculty member who has wide-spread access to the building tests positive (ie - custodian, principal, etc.) to what extent should isolation occur amongst the rest of the population? What steps should be taken before a return?
The faculty member should be under home isolation; if anyone meets the definition of a close contact with that faculty member, the close contact(s) should quarantine for 14 days. The faculty member may return to work after 10 days of isolation provided that person is fever free for the last 72 hours without the use of fever reducing medications and symptoms (if any) are improving.
11. A child, who rides a school bus, has a parent who was notified that she (the parent) tested positive for COVID-19 after the child left the house for the bus stop. The parent called the principal to alert her of the test results: the student had already arrived at school and was in class. What protocols need to be put in place for students/families that were at the bus stop, students and staff who were on the bus, and classmates and teachers of the bus riders?
The child should be sent home to be placed on quarantine. The child is most likely a close contact, but not a case/did not test positive, therefore there is no action that needs to be taken for any of the other persons mentioned. DOH will not quarantine a contact of a contact.
Retrieved September 8, 2020, from https://suffolkcountyny.gov/Departments/Health- Services/Health-Bulletins/Novel-Coronavirus/SCDHS-COVID19-Guidance-and-Services