OK…I’m gonna be honest and tell you that I have a lot going on right now. I’m putting zero effort into trying to make this entertaining in any way, but some new guidance from the Wyoming Department of Health (WDH) has been released and I want you to know about it right away.
The new guidance is for what the WDH calls Investigations: K-12. You probably know it as contact tracing. When a student or staff at school or in a school setting (think bus) tests positive for COVID-19, local officials have to determine who was a “close contact” of the person who tested positive. They then issue isolation or quarantine orders to close contacts based on their findings and the WDH has changed some of their quarantine/isolation procedures.
For review, isolation occurs as a result of a positive COVID-19 test. Quarantine is the result of someone being a close contact with a positive positive COVID-19 test. A student or staff is considered a close contact when they are within 6 feet of the COVID-19 positive individual for 15 minutes or more
WDH has developed a very helpful graphic that shows whether a student or staff will be quarantined or isolated as the result of exposure, but I also wanted to walk you through each scenario in an effort to ensure everyone has a good understanding of how this will be implemented in our schools.
Scenario 1: When a masked student/staff tests positive and
close contacts were wearing masks. When this occurred in the past, the student/staff with the positive test would be required to isolate and the close contact would be quarantined, even if both parties were wearing masks. This will no longer be the case. Now, if you are considered a close contact of a student/staff who tested positive and both individuals were wearing masks during the period of contact, the close contact will be able to remain at school while self-monitoring for symptoms. This is an incredible incentive to wear masks at school and will reduce the amount of quarantine time for students and staff who do.
Scenario 2: When an unmasked student/staff tests positive and close contacts were wearing masks. In this case, the individual with the positive test will be required to isolate, and the close contacts, even though they were wearing a mask will be required to quarantine because the individual with the positive test result was not wearing a mask.
Scenario 3: When a masked student/staff tests positive and SOME close contacts were wearing masks. This scenario follows the rules from above. Close contacts wearing masks would not be required to quarantine and those who were not wearing masks would be required to quarantine.
Scenario 4: When an unmasked student/staff tests positive and close contacts were NOT wearing masks. By now I’m sure you’ve got this down pat. If nobody is wearing mask, individuals who test positive will have to isolate and all close contacts will be required to quarantine.
Some additional information related to the new guidance and the scenarios above:
Contacts who are asked to self-monitor should monitor themselves closely for
COVID-19 symptoms during the two weeks after exposure. If they develop symptoms,
they should stay home and contact a healthcare provider about testing for COVID-19. If
contacts who are self-monitoring develop symptoms but do not get tested, they should
remain home until at least 10 days after symptom onset
Students and staff who are currently under quarantine because of school exposures, and who were exposed in settings where both parties were wearing face coverings, may be released from quarantine (YES!)
K-12 students or staff who are close contacts due to exposure to a household member are required to quarantine.
So…the bottom line. If you are wearing your mask at school you could prevent yourself from being quarantined. If you are wearing a mask at school, you could prevent someone else from being quarantined. That’s a win-win.
As always, please feel free to contact me with any questions.