Efforts continue in USN's COVID-19 defense

In the words of U.S. National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases Director Anthony Fauci, "The one thing we don't want to do is to get complacent." Health Team Director Margee Brennan responds to ever-changing guidelines, increased vaccine availability, and the loosening of local restrictions. 
By Margee Brennan, Health Team Director

Following the CDC's recent modifications to operational guidelines for schools, the increasing availability of vaccines to students 16 and older, and the loosening of local restrictions, the Health Team has received many questions regarding potential changes to USN's day-to-day COVID-19 prevention measures. I want to reaffirm that USN is continuing to employ our "layers of swiss cheese" to help mitigate the spread of coronavirus within our school community.

The CDC has made allowances for 3 feet of physical distancing as opposed to 6 feet. This guidance is intended to help previously remote schools where spacing did not allow for 6 feet of physical distancing to reopen. It does not recommend scaling back any preventive measures, and it very importantly does not change the parameters for identification of a close contact which means the 6-feet/15-minute rule still applies. Although CDC guidelines don't specifically refer to the plexiglass, we see it as one of our layers of protection. See below for more about this from a trusted source:

- The new distancing guidance is nuanced and continues to recommend cohorts and keeping desks facing forward whenever possible. The guidance stresses that students should be at least 3 feet apart at the elementary level and that in middle and high school students should be at least “3 feet apart in areas of low, moderate, or substantial community transmission. In areas of high community transmission, middle and high school students should be 6 feet apart if cohorting is not possible.”

- The new distancing guidance says that 6 feet should be maintained between adults and students during lunch, any time masks are off, in common areas, and anytime events involving exhalation occur including during sports and singing, shouting, band, etc.

- Guidelines stress that the definition of a close contact has not changed: “For schools that use less than 6 feet between students in classrooms, the definition of close contacts should not change. Students sitting less than 6 feet next to another student or person diagnosed with COVID-19 for a total of 15 minutes or more should quarantine at home and be referred for testing.”

I hope to get more information out soon regarding vaccinations. For families with students 16 years old and older who are interested in getting vaccinated you can sign up here. In the meantime, consider all of our layers of mitigation our way of navigating safely through the end of the school year. In the words of U.S. National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases Director Anthony Fauci, "The one thing we don't want to do is to get complacent."
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    • Health Team Director Margee Brennan

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