COVID Cases, Quarantining, and Test to Stay

November 17th, 2021

I want to provide an update on monitoring and response to COVID-19 cases in our school community.  We are aware that parents have been turning to social media for answers.  For accurate answers to questions regarding COVID in the District, please refer to District communications and the District Web site, or contact the District Administrative Offices at 215-723-6061.

Incidence and positivity rates in our district and across our county have been on the rise since shortly after Halloween.  In particular, Indian Valley Middle School has seen more cases than other schools in the district.  Most of the cases reported to us have originated outside of school.  We are in daily communication with officials from the Montgomery County Office of Public Health (OPH) and continue with mitigation efforts at the school.  

Quarantining students is required.  We realize such quarantines are not ideal, but doing so keeps our school community safer.  Parents often ask how we identify students as being “close contacts” or how we determine the length of quarantine for exposed students.  Most often, we learn of a positive case through a parent phone call after a student has tested positive.  As an example, we may be contacted on a Monday by a family with a student who tested positive over the weekend.  In this scenario we are required by OPH to conduct contact tracing for the student in question and consider contacts from the previous week of school.  We review seating charts and talk with staff and students to develop a list of close contacts for two days prior to the onset of symptoms of the positive student.  Each student on this close contact list is then required to quarantine for at least seven days from the date of exposure.

We understand how disruptive quarantine is for families and have been working with local health officials on ways to minimize it.  As a result, after the Thanksgiving break, we will be introducing a new program offered in partnership with the OPH called Test to Stay.  The goal of the Test to Stay program is to reduce the need to quarantine healthy students.  The Test to Stay program permits school districts to offer free, voluntary rapid antigen tests to students who have been identified as close contacts to a positive COVID-19 case.  Information regarding the Test to Stay program protocols will be shared soon.

As always, parents are asked to remain vigilant in keeping their child(ren) home if they are sick.  We ask parents to review the District's Illness Indicators/Sick Day Guidelines, particularly as they relate to COVID-19.  Students should stay home if they are experiencing symptoms, have had a positive COVID-19 test, or are awaiting results of a test.  They should also stay home if a parent, guardian, sibling, or other household contact is sick and has had a positive COVID-19 test.    

Thank you for your patience as we continue to work through these challenges. 

Sincerely,

Frank Gallagher

Frank T. Gallagher, Ed.D.
Superintendent of Schools