During Monday evening’s Sag Harbor School Board meeting, Jeff Nichols, the district superintendent, outlined the school’s new Covid-19 protocols: “The new requirements as to how they relate to contact tracing, close contacts, and even students returning to school if they test positive.”
Most notably, if a student or staff member tests positive for Covid, that person must stay home for five days.
“When they return to school on day six, they would be required to wear a mask from day six to day 10. And it’s important to know the difference between recommended and required,” he said, emphasizing that the mask requirement upon returning to school comes directly from the Suffolk County Department of Health Services.
Mr. Nichols also outlined recommendations for those classified as a “close contact” — i.e., anyone who comes in close proximity to a person who tested positive for the virus. In such a case, “It is recommended, not required,” he stressed, “that the person test on day one and day five.” Rapid antigen tests would be provided by the school.
If the test comes back positive, then that person must stay home for five days. If negative, that person can remain in school, but the superintendent pointed out that in such a case, the Health Department strongly recommends that anyone deemed a close contact should mask up for 10 days.
A week after the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention announced a move toward eliminating its contact-tracing programs, Mr. Nichols said that contact tracing had “partially ended” in all Sag Harbor schools.
In prekindergarten through fifth grade, where children are in one classroom for the entire day, group contact tracing will be followed, in which, if one child in a classroom tests positive, then all students in that classroom, and its teachers, would be deemed close contacts and follow guidelines accordingly. Students will be given home test kits and instructed where to upload results.
In the Pierson Middle and High School, where students move around between classrooms and interact with various groups during the school day, things are more complicated, Mr. Nichols pointed out.
For grades six through 12, in the case of a positive test, individual contact tracing would be implemented, requiring administrators to determine if someone meets the definition of a close contact.
In other Covid-related news, the superintendent announced that field trips for a robotics competition and a Model U.N. conference were approved. Proof of vaccination and a negative test will be required. Other field trips are being considered, including overnight trips for middle schoolers.
Finally, Mr. Nichols announced that it was looking “very likely” that in-person, end-of-school-year events such as academic awards ceremonies would return indoors this year. They were held outside under a tent last year.