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An Important Message from HCPSS Health Services, March 16, 2021

March 16th, 2021

With the return of students and staff to classrooms and extracurricular activities, it is critical that everyone strictly follows the health guidance in place to keep HCPSS students and staff safe and able to continue to provide in-person opportunities. It is important that open communication exists between households and the school.

HCPSS developed protocols for responding to positive cases in schools in conjunction with the Howard County Health Department (HCHD). HCHD performs contact tracings on Howard County residents who test positive for COVID-19, and HCPSS is notified of a positive case if there is a public health risk to the school community as determined through the contact tracing process. A Health Department Investigator is assigned to each case and informs close contacts who may have been exposed.

If you believe your child has symptoms consistent with COVID-19 or your child is a close contact with someone with COVID-19 symptoms, including anyone who lives in your home, please keep your child home from school and contact your child’s School Nurse or Principal immediately.

The Maryland Department of Health defines a COVID-19-like illness as when a person has any one of the following: cough, shortness of breath, difficulty breathing, new loss of taste or smell; OR at least two of the following: fever of 100.4 degrees or higher (measured or subjective), chills or shaking chills, muscle aches, sore throat, headache, nausea or vomiting, diarrhea, fatigue, and congestion or runny nose.

Parents/guardians should review this checklist with your child every morning before school, and by sending your child to school, you are attesting to the fact that they do not have any of these symptoms.

In alignment with guidance from MDH, should your child become symptomatic during the school day, they will be evaluated by the nurse and sent home if needed with direction regarding isolation and quarantine. If your child is a close contact of a symptomatic child or staff member, they will be sent home and provided guidance regarding quarantine. In addition to phone contact, students sent home from school may receive letters from the Howard County Health Department regarding their particular situation.

HCPSS Health Services staff members work closely with HCHD to ensure that anyone who may have been exposed is contacted. Additionally, school administrators collaborate with staff from the HCPSS Health Services, School Management and Instructional Leadership, and Communications offices to issue communications to the appropriate communities. This messaging is guided by HCHD recommendations and is strictly aligned with regulations defined by the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act of 1996, or HIPPA, to protect the medical privacy of individuals.

If your student becomes ill during the day and it is determined that they need to be picked up and taken home from school, it is extremely important that the student be picked up as soon as possible, and definitely within an hour. To make this process easier, we are asking all parents/guardians to take these steps now:

  1. Please be sure that your Family File is updated with your most CURRENT contact information. It is imperative that we have a means to get in touch with you in a timely manner.
  2. Also in your Family File, please make sure your emergency contacts are up to date, with current contact information. Please remind those people that you have indicated them as emergency contacts and that if they get a phone call to pick your child up from school, they will need to be able to get there within an hour.

There is nothing more important to us than the safety and health of our students, our staff, and their families. These guidelines were developed in conjunction with the State of Maryland and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Thank you for working with us to keep our students safe.