Sunday, January 2, 2022

Update on Omicron and what's happening in schools in NYC and elsewhere to limit transmission

Correction:  Just informed that on Dec. 29, CDC updated its guidance & now calls for 10 days quarantine for any Covid positive school staff or students. So the DOE directive that staff should return after 5 days as long as their symptoms are minor is NOT aligned with the CDC. 

Omicron is spreading like wildfire, and in response several urban and suburban districts are keeping their schools closed or going remote next week, either for the full week or part of it, including Seattle, Detroit, Atlanta and Newark.  In NY state, among the districts that are going remote are Yonkers, New RochelleMount Vernon, and according to reliable sources, Ossining, Westbury and Freeport.

In NYC, the citywide seven-day positivity rate is an incredible 32%.  [update 1/3/22: now 33.5%.] In some neighborhoods, the rate is as high as 40%. Yet instead of  going remote, the DOE has made an agreement with the UFT they will increase the weekly random Covid screening to 20% of all students and staff who have consented, and will be providing teachers with testing kits and K95 masks each week.  

Students will only get testing kits if they're exposed, and no masks -- very unfortunate especially given that they are less likely to be fully vaccinated and thus presumably more vulnerable if they do get infected. 

In addition, DOE has updated their screening process.  Here is the new form students, staff and visitors have to fill out daily, which is confusing.  

First of all, it suggests that if you were exposed to a Covid case out of school and not fully vaccinated, you need to quarantine for at least seven days, but if exposed in school, not to quarantine at all unless you test positive, despite the fact that it is impossible for most people to distinguish the source of their infection and unclear why it should make a difference.  

Secondly, the new screening requires infected teachers to return to school after five days even if they are still symptomatic as long as their  symptoms are not serious and they wear a K95 mask.  This is aligned with the new CDC guidance, but still seems excessively risky. awho log in wwho ti klienho wwho havwhowho://twitter.com/jasonwhwhoiiimartinez81/status/1477417610920693762?s=20

Also, a message widely tweeted by teachers today appears to say that the DOE Situation Room is no longer even going to attempt to track transmission within schools, but is leaving this critical task up to overburdened school administrators and teachers.  

If this message was distributed to your school and/or I've misinterpreted it, please let me know by leaving a comment or emailing me at info@classsizematters.org.  Thanks! 

See also the chart with reasonable precautions and protocols that Jay Brown, a member of CEC District 21, put together and that Nina Kulkarni, a teacher and parent,14776 alonlkarni_ninastatus//94823670980610?s=20 has recommended on twitter.



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