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Health Protocols 2021-2022

Health Protocols

Updated November 16, 2021

Please Upload Your Student's Vaccination Information

We are pleased that vaccinations are now available for students ages 5 to 11 in addition to students ages 12 to 18. If your student has recently been vaccinated, after their second shot we ask that you upload their vaccination card into our existing Student Information System (PowerSchool) to facilitate contact tracing. 

  • Current quarantining requirements vary based upon vaccination status.
  • Contact tracing requires PPS nurses to inquire about each student's vaccination status.
  • If a student is named a "close contact," the student will not need to quarantine or miss school if they are in fact vaccinated.

PPS will maintain student confidentiality. Only staff directly involved in contact tracing will have access to vaccination status.

Please see the directions below which are provided in both English and Spanish.

English Instructions

En Español

Estimadas familias,

Ha sido un inicio emocionante del año escolar viendo a nuestros alumnos de vuelta a la escuela participando en actividades y reconectados con la comunidad escolar. Continuamos trabajando para proporcionar enseñanza, actividades y experiencias sociales que ayuden a nuestros estudiantes a recuperar un sentido de pertenencia y orgullo en nuestras escuelas.

En este momento, estamos muy agradecidos por el apoyo de todos al completar el examen de salud diario, y por nuestros estudiantes por seguir atentos a nuestros protocolos de salud y seguridad. Durante la última semana, es posible que haya recibido un par de notificaciones de salud y seguridad que lo alertan sobre casos recientes de COVID-19.

Los requisitos de cuarentena actuales varían según el estado de vacunación. El rastreo de contactos requiere que preguntemos sobre el estado de vacunación de cada estudiante. Si un estudiante es nombrado "contacto cercano", no es necesario que lo pongan en cuarentena o falten a la escuela si de hecho están vacunados. Para acelerar este esfuerzo, hemos creado un medio para que las familias carguen voluntariamente la tarjeta de vacunación de su estudiante en nuestro sistema de información estudiantil existente: PowerSchool. La confidencialidad de su estudiante es nuestra prioridad; por lo tanto, queremos que todas las familias sepan que solo el personal de la escuela que participa directamente en el rastreo de contactos tendrá acceso a esta información. El estado de vacunación y las tarjetas de vacunación se ocultarán al resto del personal.

Por favor, consulte las instrucciones a continuación, que se proporcionan tanto en inglés como en español.

CrisisGo Update: New Morning Deadline 

PPS uses CrisisGo, an online tool (with an app for your phone) that allows school administrators, teachers, and school staff to verify completion of our daily symptom screening. Our goal is to keep schools open for full days, five days a week.

Based on feedback from PPS students and families, the deadline to complete CrisisGo is now 7:50 AM. This deadline allows schools to print out the names of students who have not done the screening and place reminder calls so that those students can enter school and begin their day.

The Princeton Health Department has asked that PPS stress the importance of having all students and staff complete the screening every day (including weekday holidays if possible).

COVID-19 Decision Protocols for Isolation and Quarantine

PPS determines when close contacts must quarantine based on criteria provided by the Princeton Health Department, CDC, and NJ State guidelines.

Social/physical distancing will be increased to six feet (from three feet) when our local community is at risk of high transmissibility (based on recommendations by the Princeton Health Department). During these periods, the Princeton Health Department will consider students who are less than six feet way for more than 15 minutes (cumulative) to be close contacts.

  • The number of days that COVID-19 positive students are required to isolate can fluctuate (increasing from 10 to 14) depending on what is happening in the local community.
  • When the risk of transmissibility is high, students required to quarantine will be in quarantine for ten days (up from seven days) Students who must quarantine or isolate are able to participate in remote learning within two days of being identified as a close contact. 
  • Students who are vaccinated and identified as close contacts do not need to quarantine unless their COVID test is positive.

If you have a child older than 12 and you are looking for a vaccination appointment, please reach out to communications@princetonk12.org and we can help.

 

Contact Tracing

Contact tracing, in combination with isolation and quarantine, is used by health departments to prevent the spread of infectious diseases by identifying people who have a confirmed or probable case of COVID-19 (cases) and people who they came in contact with (close contacts) and working with them to interrupt disease spread. This includes asking people with COVID-19 to isolate and their contacts to quarantine at home. 

Please note that PPS, in accordance with CDC guidelines, will not quarantine vaccinated individuals exposed to a person who has tested positive. Unvaccinated individuals may still be required to quarantine if exposed to a positive case.  

 

Student and Staff COVID-19 Screening and Testing

PPS is partnering with Medicat to provide twice a week PCR screening testing to any staff member who is unvaccinated. This procedure began on October 5. Currently, all staff have been uploading documentation of their vaccination status via a secure portal. This enables us to establish testing schedules for eligible staff.

PPS is also partnering with the NJ Department of Health and will implement a school screening testing program for students who are unvaccinated. Additional details are forthcoming.

 

Mask Reminders

Governor Murphy ordered all students and staff in schools to wear masks due to the rising cases in New Jersey regardless of vaccination status. Our PPS health experts have also recommended masks for all staff and students in PPS buildings.

  • All parents must wear masks while on school property.
  • If you arrive at school on foot, please remember to keep your mask on during drop off and pick up.
  • For parents arriving in vehicles, please make sure you have your mask on if you get out of your car. 
  • Please remember to send extra masks to school with your child. After children eat or play, their masks sometimes get soiled. 
  • Neck gaiters cannot be substituted for masks. 
  • Extra disposable face coverings will also be available for students who forget to bring a mask or if their mask gets damaged, lost, or soiled during the school day. 
  • In some cases, cloth face coverings worn by teachers may impede the education process for certain students, including those who are deaf or hard of hearing or receiving speech/language services; young students in early education programs; and English-language learners. The district will provide products (e.g., face coverings with clear panels in the front) in these cases. All students will be allowed mask breaks as needed. 

Remote Instruction During Quarantine and Isolation 

Princeton Public Schools is committed to in-person, five-day, full-day school for our students starting September 9. PPS will follow the Governor's order and the requirements from the Department of Education, which stipulate that the only option for remote learning is when a student is either in isolation due to a positive COVID diagnosis, or if they have been identified as a close contact and need to quarantine if they are not vaccinated. Needing to quarantine after travel is not included. For school year 2021-22 there is no option to request remote learning due to concerns about virus spread.

In alignment with the Governor's order and Department of Education requirements, COVID-related remote learning is only possible when:

  • A student is in isolation due to a positive COVID diagnosis.
  • A student is unvaccinated and has been identified as having close contact with a COVID patient and needs to quarantine. 

For those options only, the district will provide COVID-related remote instruction for students starting 24 hours after the quarantine or isolation period begins. COVID quarantine/isolation days are the only remote days that can be counted for attendance purposes. 

Students who have a significant medical issue, are undergoing treatment, or recovering from a medical situation such as surgery, can receive home instruction on a short-term basis. Home instruction requires a medical doctor's note requesting home instruction for a specific period. Students who receive home instruction work with a teacher for one hour a day--this is not a full-day schedule because the student is ill and is not able to participate for a full day of instruction. If they can, they will be in school.

Home schooling--which is different than home instruction--involves a family opting to withdraw their child from Princeton Public Schools. Parents who choose this option need to notify their school in writing to withdraw the child from school. A family can re-enroll their child in a PPS school at any time.

We understand that some families are struggling with issues related to health and the pandemic. Medical experts are telling us that this wave of illness is expected to peak in October. A worsening situation in Mercer County or the state of New Jersey could conceivably result in the Governor changing course and permitting remote learning as an option, but at this point most experts hope this will not be necessary. PPS will continue to monitor guidance from the NJ Department of Health and the Department of Education closely and will provide updates to our families when new information is received. 

Travel Quarantines

Princeton continues to be in a public health situation where unvaccinated students and staff must quarantine after travel lasting 24 hours or longer outside of New Jersey, Pennsylvania, New York or Delaware. Unvaccinated staff and students must continue to follow the CDC guidelines which require 10 days of quarantine without testing or seven days of quarantine with a negative test taken on day 3-5 after travel. The CDC recommends delaying travel until you are fully vaccinated.

For those who are vaccinated, New Jersey residents returning home after travel do not need to quarantine but should still follow travel guidance from the CDC, the NJ Department of Health, and all local health and safety protocols. Here is more detailed travel information from the New Jersey Department of Health and from the CDC.

 

Before Coming to School

Please complete a Daily Health Screening form each morning for each child and submit it via CrisisGo by 7:50 AM. 

If a symptom is reported, the nurse will reach out to the parents/guardians to discuss recommendations, which could include (1) student may proceed to school; (2) student should stay home and monitor symptoms, until a follow up conversation and determination is made by the school nurse; or (3) the student should seek medical care for further evaluation and will need clearance by a medical provider before returning to school. The same procedures apply to staff members.

 

During the School Day

If a student has symptoms of illness during the school day, he or she will be sent home. Parents and guardians should pick up the child within 30 minutes of being called. If this is not possible, please provide an emergency contact who can get to school within 30 minutes. The person picking up the child should be listed as an emergency contact. Emergency contacts can be added via PowerSchool.

 

Social Distancing Protocols

Staff and students will maintain three to six feet of physical distance to the degree possible given the needs of individual students. When a student requires additional assistance, such as a physical prompt (pointing to an item on a page), the staff member will stay in close proximity to the student for the least amount of time possible. Staff will work with individual students to build skills of independence.

Restricted Use of Lockers as a Mitigation Strategy at PMS

Restrictions on the use of certain areas of schools is part of the PPS mitigation strategy. This reduces the likelihood of transmission. It also prevents large groups of students from being quarantined. (For example: not all PMS students are eligible for the vaccination and hence would be required to quarantine if identified as a close contact). We do understand the inconvenience of students having to carry their materials. 

Outdoor Lunch

PPS encourages all classes to eat outdoors, especially at the elementary level, while the weather is still nice. There have been recent changes that make this process easier. Nutri-Serve (our food service provider) has switched, at our request, to a more limited “grab and go” option (bagel bag or bagged “hot” lunch). Selections will be further limited to items that are easy to eat if a student is seated outside on a beach towel.

Extra Help with Lunches

All school principals have received volunteer application packets, which they may share with potential volunteers. Any adult who comes into contact with students must comply with certain screening and security rules. If needed, principals will select individuals who can consistently be available. Principals will determine the way in which the school needs support. We appreciate parents who have been providing material such as beach towels and blankets that enable students to eat outside on the grass.

Bus Protocols

Students will wear a mask when boarding the bus, sit in an assigned seat, and stay distanced as much as possible unless they are siblings or members of the same family. Bus windows will be open for fresh air and ventilation.  

Vaccinations   

All New Jersey teachers and staff must be vaccinated before October 18 or undergo weekly testing, by executive order of the governor. We encourage eligible students to be vaccinated, but PPS is not mandating vaccinations at this time. We are monitoring potential mandates and recommendations from the State of New Jersey. 

If you have a child older than 12 and you are looking for a vaccination appointment, please reach out to communications@princetonk12.org and we can help. 

At this time, information has not been shared with PPS on when a vaccine will be available for children under 12 years old, but our medical experts will keep us updated and we will share what we learn with you. We will likewise provide any updates on booster shots.

Athletics

All student athletes will be required to complete an electronic health questionnaire before attending practices and games.  Parents are not permitted to attend tryouts or practices but are allowed to attend games. Spectators are required to wear masks for all indoor games. They are not required outdoors. Physical distancing of at least 6 feet will be practiced whenever possible.  If athletes are not able to maintain 6' of physical distancing while on the sidelines, they will be required to wear masks.  The rules pertaining to quarantine and isolation following travel outside of the state also pertain to athletes.  You'll find detailed information here. 

PPS is working with health experts to determine protocols for using the pool.

Art and Music in Elementary Schools


Specials will move back to the art and music rooms as long as the rooms have sufficient space so that students can maintain social distance requirements for during their activities. Outside spaces can also be used when students need to remove their masks for instrumental lessons. 
 

Test to Stay

PPS continues to weigh the advantages and disadvantages of "test to stay" programs for unvaccinated students. "Test to Stay," which allows students who have been exposed to COVID-19 to continue to attend school, is a less conservative option than the PPS protocols now in place. Right now, Princeton's local public health authorities support PPS's cautious stance. Ideally, the vaccine for younger students would be available soon and diminish the need for "test to stay."

"Test to stay" programs are utilized to eliminate quarantines for unvaccinated students exposed to COVID-19. They can be implemented with either PCR or rapid tests, although most commonly these programs are implemented using rapid antigen tests due to the frequency of testing and to avoid delays in test results. Typically, the programs involve seven consecutive school days of testing. The CDC and the State of NJ have not yet endorsed "test to stay" protocols, but the agency is in the process of evaluating their efficacy. The programs have been described by the CDC as "promising," particularly when transmission rates are very low. Test to Stay programs have been used successfully in some public school districts, including the public schools in Newton, MA. However, the CDC has also expressed concerns, including implementation hurdles.

PPS agrees that nobody wants students to be needlessly quarantined. However, a conservative approach of having unvaccinated children who have been exposed to the virus quarantine helps prevent other students and staff from testing positive. The district's Health & Safety Task Force, which meets weekly, will continue to consider the merits and disadvantages of "test to stay."