September 23, 2021
The District was notified of positive cases of COVID-19 at the Indiana Junior High School and Eisenhower Elementary on September 21, 2021. The Department of Health (DOH) worked with the school nurse and administration and concluded six (6) additional students are required to be quarantined between both cases. The positive cases WILL be attributed to the District as the individuals were in school during their infectious period. Any questions regarding quarantine should be directed to the Department of Health at 1-877-PA-HEALTH (1-877-724-3258).
Based on the information above as well as our current case count, we will continue to stay open under the current model.
I also think it is important to provide some additional clarity surrounding the quarantine process, as well as some of the specifics contained within the DOH’s system for determining who should or should not be quarantined and/or isolated once a school has a positive case. My goal is not to anger or upset you; rather, it is my intention to be up front with you about the conditions under which the District is required to operate. Again, any questions regarding quarantine should be directed to the Department of Health at 1-877-PA-HEALTH (1-877-724-3258) as the District did NOT make any of these rules or procedures. However, we are obligated to adhere to them.
I previously wrote to our families this summer explaining that schools are required to report all cases to the DOH. Specifically, in alignment with requirements in 28 Pa. Code Title 28, Chapter 27, schools must:
- Report positive cases of COVID-19 to DOH for case investigation, contact tracing, and issuance of quarantine and/or isolation orders; and
- Exclude school children and staff from having contact with other school children or staff showing symptoms of a communicable disease.
- Source: https://www.education.pa.gov/Schools/safeschools/emergencyplanning/COVID-19/SchoolReopeningGuidance/ReopeningPreKto12/RespondingtoCases/Pages/default.aspx
Click here to review the update that I previously shared with you that directly comes from the Department of Health discussing quarantines/exposures. I am hopeful this will give you additional context surrounding the orders the District must follow. Click here to review a report released by the DOH regarding the number of positive cases for school-aged children. Any questions surrounding the data should be directed to the DOH and not the District as we did NOT compile this information.
Many of you, including myself, are concerned about the number of quarantines the District has encountered recently. I wrote to the DOH to inquire about their procedures and to seek clarity surrounding 6 feet vs. 3 feet of social distancing when determining isolation/quarantines. They responded that “In the K–12 indoor classroom setting, the close contact definition excludes students who were within three to six feet of an infected student (laboratory-confirmed or a clinically compatible illness) if both the infected student and exposed student(s) correctly and consistently wore well-fitting masks the entire time. This exception does not apply to teachers, staff, or other adults in the indoor classroom setting.” Thus, based on their rules and orders, this is why we are seeing a higher number of students being quarantined. As a District, we have expressed our concerns over the confusion, hardship, and questions that their procedures are causing schools. We have not been told that they will change it at this time.
This year is different from last year with regards to students/staff testing positive while in quarantine. Last year, we only had a few cases where individuals were quarantined and tested positive for COVID-19. This year, we have seen higher rates of individuals on quarantine testing positive. I will not go into great details surrounding the numbers as I want to respect the privacy of our families nor do I understand why this is happening. But I felt that this was relevant to this situation, and thought you should be aware.
Additionally, the Department of Health released a public dashboard for families to review to gain insight into some of the state-wide data regarding COVID-19. The link is below:
I realize that these are difficult times with the increased pressures the pandemic causes, and there are no guaranteed right or wrong answers at times due to the varying beliefs, attitudes, and opinions on the matter. We thank you all for what you have done already and thank you for the work that is to come. We truly appreciate you all. Please visit our COVID dashboard at www.iasd.cc for additional information relating to the number of positive cases and quarantines the District is facing at the current time.
Mr. Michael J. Vuckovich