TEA reverses on close contact notification
After another updated set of guidelines from the Texas Education Agency, Breckenridge ISD will now be required to notify parents if their child has been in contact with a COVID positive individual, according to the guidance released Aug. 19.
Last week, Breckenridge ISD announced the district would be following TEA COVID-19 guidelines. The most recent changes made by the agency include three major additions for the upcoming school year.
“Consistent with school notification requirements for other communicable diseases, and consistent with legal confidentiality requirements, schools must notify all teachers, staff, and families of all students in a classroom or extracurricular or after-school program cohort if a test-confirmed COVID-19 case is identified among students, teachers or staff who participated in those classrooms or cohorts,” the new guidance states.
Also, students who are exhibiting symptoms of COVID-19, and not just those who test positive for the virus, must be excluded from attending school in person. Conditions for reentry must be met before a student can return to in-person instruction.
According to the Texas Department of State Health Services, “a school administrator shall exclude from attendance any child having or suspected of having COVID-19. Exclusion shall continue until the readmission criteria for the conditions are met. The readmission criteria for COVID-19 is as follows: if symptomatic, exclude until at least 10 days have passed since symptom onset, and fever free (for 24 hours, without the use of fever suppressing medications), and other symptoms have improved. Children who test positive for COVID-19 but do not have any symptoms must stay home until at least 10 days after the day they were tested.”
A fever is classified as a temperature of 100° Fahrenheit (37.8° Celsius) or higher, according to DSHS.
The new guidance varies slightly when it comes to school employees. If a member of the staff, who is not fully vaccinated, meets the close contact threshold with a COVID-19 positive individual, and the staff remains on campus, rapid testing must be performed at the start of the school day, at least once every other day, for 10 days.
TEA follows the close contact parameters defined by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. The CDC website defines close contact as someone who was within 6 feet of an infected person for a cumulative total of 15 minutes or more over a 24-hour period (for example, three individual 5-minute exposures for a total of 15 minutes).
“An infected person can spread SARS-CoV-2 starting from 2 days before they have any symptoms (or, for asymptomatic patients, 2 days before the positive specimen collection date), until they meet criteria for discontinuing home isolation,” the website states.
The website also lists an exception for students. In the K-12 indoor classroom setting, the close contact definition excludes students who were within 3 to 6 feet of an infected student, if both the infected student and the exposed student(s) correctly and consistently wore well-fitting masks the entire time. But, this exception does not apply to teachers, staff, or other adults in the indoor classroom setting.
If the district chooses not to rapid test staff, it is recommended that the exposed employee remain off campus during the stay-at-home period of 10 days.
For more information about DSHS and CDC COVID-19 guidelines visit their websites at dshs.texas.gov/coronavirus/ and www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/index.html.
Updates from TEA can be found at tea.texas.gov by clicking on the ‘updates’ link under the Emergency Support heading.