ICYMI: COVID and Staying in School Manual

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ICYMI: COVID and Staying in School Manual

Over the holiday break, USED released a new resource “2022: Staying in School In Person”. The document outlines four key strategies keep students and staff safe, healthy and ready for in-person learning, including:

1. Help Students Get Vaccinated

Vaccination is the leading public health prevention strategy to end the COVID-19 pandemic, and the best way to help school communities remain in school, in-person during the pandemic. USED provides resources on how to host school-based vaccination clinics and recommends hosting family vaccine clinics and encouraging all eligible school staff, parents and family members to get vaccinated and a booster shot.

2. Implement Test to Stay and Provide Screening Testing

The document identifies the key factors in successful Test To Stay programs including frequent testing of close contacts after exposure – repeated at least twice during a seven-day period post-exposure. USED has partnered with the CDC and the Rockefeller Foundation to help districts accelerate school-based testing for students and staff. As part of this effort, the Rockefeller Foundation published a testing how-to start-up guide for schools and the CDC launched a directory and website to make it easy for schools to identify testing providers within their state.

3. Collaborate with Local Health Departments

Vaccination rates and community spread vary across states and impact decisions at a local level. Collaborating with local health departments is crucial in ensuring a coordinated and supported response to COVID in your school. At the foundation of this relationship should be meaningful, regular and consistent interactions with your local, county and state health departments so that schools are best equipped to respond to new data, pivot in response to evolving information and reassess any changed policies as needed.

4. Monitor Community Spread

The CDC has stated that although outbreaks in schools can occur, multiple studies have shown that transmission within school settings is typically lower than—or at least similar to—levels of community transmission, when prevention strategies are in place in schools. Implementing mitigation strategies at all levels of community transmission is important to keep in-school transmission low. When there are higher levels of community transmission, it is particularly important to strengthen strategies like screening testing to identify cases early.