SOUTH PLAINFIELD, NJ – The South Plainfield School District, beginning Oct. 19, will require a COVID health form to be completed each day a student, teacher, faculty or staff member plans to be in the building.
"The recommendation now is that it is done daily," stated Superintendent of Schools Dr. Noreen Tansey Lishak at a virtual board of education meeting Wednesday night, noting that the guidance comes from both the Middlesex County and New Jersey State health departments.
Initially, the district, in its reopening plan, announced that faculty and staff, along with parents/guardians looking to send their student(s) back into the buildings, would be responsible for signing off on a monthly online COVID questionnaire.
Beginning Monday, however, the questionnaire must be completed every day a person plans to be in school. "It's not just happening with the students; it's happening also with the faculty and staff," said Tansey Lishak. "It's now daily and everyone must make sure that they are looking out for symptoms and that they do not have a fever."
The questionnaire asks parents, teachers, and staff to review a list of symptoms identified by the CDC as possible indicators of COVID-19. It also asks one to verify if they have had close contact with someone who tested positive, if someone in their family was diagnosed with the virus, and/or if they have traveled to an area with a high transmission rate.
"If you do not sign off on the form, the first time, maybe even the second time, the nurse will [check] the child and make sure [they] show no symptoms," Tansey Lishak said. "However, on your third time, we are not going to allow your child into the building. We are going to reach out to you and you are going to have to come back and make sure your child, before they enter the building, does not have a fever or any of the other symptoms listed on the sheet by the CDC."
Currently, students who returned for in-person instruction are attending on either an 'A' or 'B' day schedule; 'A' day students go into the buildings on Mondays, Wednesdays, and alternating Fridays with 'B' day students attending Tuesdays, Thursdays, and alternating Fridays.
In an effort to ensure parents are aware of the change, Tansey Lishak said 'A' Day parents will receive a phone call reminder the evening of Sunday, Oct. 18 and parents of 'B' Day students will receive a call the evening of Monday, Oct. 19. An email will also be sent out to remind parents that they must sign off on the form in order for their child to enter the building.
Last month, the district announced its plans to phase students back into the buildings over the course of three weeks; students began returning the week of Oct. 5 with the last group scheduled to come back the week of Oct. 19. "We are now into week two…[and] as we are moving through our phase in process, the attendance has been light. We have found some students, as they are seeing how things are going, have decided to come back in and, on the other hand, some decided to go virtual…but we are still moving forward with the process," said Tansey Lishak.
During the first week students were back in the building, however, classes at both South Plainfield Middle School and Grant School were quarantined due to positive COVID tests. As a result, Tansey Lishak, during Wednesday night's meeting, reviewed the guidelines and the process the district will follow should an additional COVID case arise in a school.
According to the superintendent, in the event someone – a student, teacher, or faculty member – tests positive, the district will immediately reach out to anyone who has been in close proximity to that person. District contract tracers, working in close contact with the health department, will also reach out to the person who tested positive. The person who tests positive will be allowed back once they are cleared by their doctor; they do not need to produce the results of a negative COVID test.
Additionally, those who have come in close contact with someone who tested positive will be required to self-quarantine for 14 days – the incubation period for the virus to show – and cannot come back prior even with a negative COVID test. Those who have been quarantined and have exhibited no symptoms of the virus must also be assessed by the respective building's nurse before they return.
"For any individual who tests positive in a school, regardless of if a student, faculty or a staff member, the protocol is the same," said Tansey Lishak.
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