Covid-19 Update & Protocols
Dear Pembroke Families and Staff,
A new school year brings a certain level of excitement but at the same time, we are aware that this particular year also comes with some mixed feelings associated with the pandemic. As a school district, our commitment is to continue to provide a safe, healthy, and supportive classroom environment for our students and staff.
At the end of the last school year, the Department of Elementary and Secondary Education (DESE) announced that many of the previous COVID-19 mitigation strategies from the 2020-2021 school year would be discontinued. Over the past few weeks, DESE has issued new guidance and requirements for school districts to follow as we open in September 2021. Our objective is to keep schools open, full time, as safely as possible all year and to provide the best possible educational, social-emotional and extracurricular environment for our students.
We have several strategies outlined below to achieve our objective and continue to educate our students in person without interruption. As with everything over the past 18 months, we appreciate your patience and understanding as we continue to navigate this pandemic as a community. These strategies call upon all of us to be flexible as we continue to adapt and do what is right for Pembroke.
Staying Home If You Are Sick
If you are experiencing symptoms of COVID-19, please self-isolate at home, call your school nurse and have a PCR COVID-19 Test. If your test is positive, follow the MDPH isolation protocol. Seek care from your healthcare provider as needed.
Symptoms of COVID-19
- Fever (100.0 or greater), chills, shaking chills
- New loss of taste or smell
- Muscle aches, body aches
- Cough (not due to other known cough, such as a chronic cough)
- Sore throat *
- Nausea, vomiting, diarrhea *
- Headache *
- Fatigue *
- Nasal congestion/runny nose *
* when in combination with other symptoms
*The leniency on attendance will remain effective. Students and staff are encouraged to remain home when experiencing any symptoms.
As of August 25, 2021, per DESE, masks are required for all students, staff, and guests, while indoors in any school building, regardless of vaccination status. Masks are not necessary outdoors. Mask waivers for medical or behavioral reasons may be requested by submitting a mask waiver form signed by your child’s licensed healthcare provider (MD, NP, PA).
Mask break protocols will remain in effect.
Masks are also required on all school transportation.
*After October 1st, if a school district can prove a vaccination rate of 80% or higher for staff and eligible students, a waiver from DESE may be sought to allow vaccinated individuals to unmask.
Close Contacts/Contact Tracing
Anyone who was within 6 feet of a person during the infectious period of COVID-19, INDOORS, for at least 15 minutes, is considered a close contact and is required to quarantine at home, with a few exceptions:
- In the classroom, when both parties are wearing a mask, only those within 3 feet of the infectious person are required to strictly quarantine.
- On the bus, if all passengers are wearing masks and the windows are open, no one is considered a close contact.
- Fully vaccinated individuals who are asymptomatic do not have to quarantine.
- In every case, individuals should monitor for symptoms for 14 days after an exposure.
- Outdoor exposure is not considered “close contact”.
- Close contacts from the classroom may attend school under the “Test and Stay” protocol.
- If you are informed by any source (outside of school) that you were a close contact, please contact your school nurse for direction.
New “Test and Stay” Program
Unvaccinated individuals identified as a close contact may consent to participate in the Test to Stay Protocol.
What this entails:
- Individuals would be tested each morning for five school days following the known exposure, using the Bianex Now rapid antigen test (lower anterior nasal swab).
- Testing would be administered by our school health personnel.
- Once the results are received (generally takes 10 minutes) students/staff would join their classroom for instruction.
- Close contacts are advised to quarantine on weekends. By testing over a 5 day school day period, close contacts would be monitored for the full 7 days outlined in the quarantining guidelines.
- Unvaccinated individuals that do not wish to consent would follow the regular quarantine/testing guidance.
*Per the CDC, vaccinated individuals do not need to test or quarantine.
- The Massachusetts Department of Public Health and DESE encourages all eligible people to learn about the COVID-19 vaccine by going onto the MDPH website.
- Consult your healthcare provider if you have any questions.
- Authorized school nurses may access immunization information on the Massachusetts Immunization Information System (MIIS) only as needed. If you do not want your immunization information to be visible to your healthcare providers, including school nurses, you may opt-out by providing your request in writing.
- Pembroke Health Services staff will take every precaution to protect student privacy around vaccination status.
Pembroke Health and Safety protocols
Air Quality Protocols
Ventilation upgrades and air quality monitoring protocols from 2020-2021 are currently in place.
- Open windows wherever possible
- UV light sanitation at PHS
- Replacement of filters monthly (MERV11/13)
- Continuous repair and maintenance of units as needed
- Handwashing protocols will remain in place and be continually reinforced.
Sanitation and Disinfection Protocols
Sanitation and Disinfection Protocols will remain in place. This includes but is not limited to;
- Wiping down frequently touched surfaces multiple times per day
- Increased disinfection of shared materials
- Continuation of full classroom disinfection at the end of the day
- Masks: All drivers, staff, and students, regardless of age are required to wear masks at all times. Exceptions or students due to medical and/or behavioral reasons.
- Ventilation: Bus windows must be open at all times during operation, unless not possible due to extreme weather conditions.
- Contact Tracing: On the bus, when all passengers are wearing masks and the windows are open, no one is considered a close contact.
DESE has no requirements in place for distancing. Pembroke Public Schools protocol for distancing is:
- Students will maintain a distance of 3 feet or greater in all indoor settings. (e.g. student desks, classroom rug seating, cafeteria seating.)
- Continued use of outdoor spaces whenever possible.
We will continue to update and maintain the COVID-19 Dashboard on the District Website.
Thank you for your continued patience and cooperation as we work to open our schools safely. We expect additional guidance from DESE over the coming weeks, and we will keep you updated as things change. For more information about the protocols outlined above, as well as answers to our most frequently asked questions, please refer to the District Website, Back to School webpage. As always, if you have any questions at any time, please do not hesitate to contact me, or your school administrators.