School districts working on COVID protocols based on state advice

Monadnock Ledger-Transcript
Published: 1/10/2022 1:05:12 PM

Local districts are working on adapting their COVID-19 plans and protocols to fit with new guidance from the New Hampshire Department of Health and Human Services.

The new guidelines were released Thursday to address the new isolation and quarantine guidelines from the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Similar to CDC guidelines, the DHHS calls for people who test positive COVID-19 to isolate for five days, and if they are asymptomatic after five days, they can come out of isolation while wearing a face mask around others for an additional five days, regardless of vaccination status. If the individual cannot or will not mask, the guidance calls for isolating a full 10 days. 

The guidance also states that people with a fever should isolate until the fever is gone and other symptoms have been improving for 24 hours. Individuals who test positive for COVID-19 and are symptomatic are advised to either isolate until symptoms improve or isolate for the initially recommended 10-day period. 

If someone is exposed to COVID-19, only those who are unvaccinated and unboosted are advised to quarantine, again for five days with masking for an additional five days. Testing around day five of isolation or following an exposure is recommended, as well.

As of Friday, ConVal Superintendent Kimberly Rizzo Saunders said the district fully intend to use these guidelines moving forward.

“We’ll take what New Hampshire DHHS has put out, and we will be adopting the New Hampshire DHHS quarantine guidelines,” she said.

The change will be implemented at ConVal as soon as the correct information can be compiled and communicated to parents and staff, Rizzo Saunders said.

“I’m going to be reviewing some of that with one of the school nurses to see if we can put together a chart from what they sent out,” she said.

Other changes to the ConVal framework included eliminating the “yellow” phase of their colored phases, which called for remote learning for most students except small groups of students who need intensive individual instruction. The “yellow” phase was between “green,” which calls for in-person learning with mitigation strategies as needed, and “red,” which would be fully remote. Current mitigation strategies will stay in place, according to Saunders, including the district’s rapid testing that was implemented in December. 

Wilton-Lyndeborough Superintendent Peter Weaver said the district also moving forward with implementing the DHHS guidance, as its reopening framework states that the district will consult with DPHS on isolation and quarantine protocols.

“Since the beginning of the pandemic, we’ve been really consistent about following their guidelines,” Weaver said, prior to the release of the DHHS guidance. “They’re experts in the field as far as we’re concerned; our expertise doesn’t necessarily lie in that area.”

As they move ahead with the new guidance, Weaver said, schools in the district are focusing on reaching out to students and staff that are currently in isolation or quarantine to update them on the changes and start making the adjustment to a shorter isolation or quarantine wherever possible.

“The goal is tot try to get kids back into school as soon as possible, as well as staff,” Weaver said. 

The Mascenic district is going to take a little longer to look over the new guidance, according to Superintendent Chris Martin.

“The updated guidance is not easily digested, so it’s going to take us some time to make a thorough decision,” she said. “What we’re in the process of doing is reviewing that with our nurses, and making decisions about how and if we want to propose any changes to the board.”

Mascenic’s COVID-19 protocols require School Board approval to make a policy shift, making the soonest a change could be implemented Jan. 18, the date of the next board meeting, if Martin and the nurses recommend doing so. 

“Right now, we’re still status quo,” she said.

Jaffrey-Rindge’s reopening framework allows for changes without a School Board vote, and existing language in their framework calls for quarantine and isolation protocols to mirror CDC and Division of Public Health Services guidance. 

“We have fallen in line with the DPHS recommendations and guidance relative to quarantining and isolation this year, which is why we were waiting for the state to adopt the CDC update guidance,” said Communications Coordinator Nick Handy. 

Until such a time as the board decided to make a change, he said, the district will follow up-to-date DHHS protocol. 

The new isolation and quarantine guidance from the DHHS can be found on its website under the Health Alerts page. 


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