Back to School: Addressing the “What Ifs”

August 20th, 2020

Among other questions about COVID preparations, we are often asked, “What if…?” What if someone in our family has COVID-19 symptoms? What if someone tests positive? The answers are not simple, and they have changed more than once, but it is worth giving everyone some idea of what different scenarios could look like. We are not medical experts, nor do we have access to the latest data about what is going on in the broader community around us. That’s why we are working with Kent County Health Department. Here are some of those “What ifs” with this week’s simplified answers:

1. What if a student or teacher tests positive? The student or teacher AND all his/her household members may not be in school until certain conditions are met, usually a minimum of 10 days for the positive case. Household members, classmates, and teachers of that person have to remain out of school for 14 days after their last date of close contact.

2. What if a student or teacher is symptomatic and has a pending lab result? That person has to remain out of school until results are received and communicated to the school. (Even if results are negative, that person could still have to quarantine for 14 days under certain conditions.) That person’s household, classmates, and teacher may continue to attend school as long as they are free of symptoms.

3. What if a student or teacher is a close contact to a confirmed COVID-19 case? That person must quarantine for 14 days since the last date of close contact. Household members, classmates, and teachers of the quarantined student/teacher may continue to attend school and should monitor for symptoms.

4. What if someone in the student’s or teacher’s household has COVID-19? A student or teacher that lives in the same house as someone who tests positive for COVID-19 must remain out of school the entire time the family member is in isolation (typically 10 days) plus 14 additional days of quarantine. The total time out of school could be at least 24 days.

5. What if someone in the household is symptomatic, has pending results, and has had close contact with a known case? Others who live in the same household are to remain out of school until test results are in.

6. What if a household member has had close contact to a known case of COVID-19? The student or teacher can remain in school but should be monitored.

While the above “What ifs” are not as whimsical as those usually posed by little children, I hope they shed some light on what the teachers are preparing for and why it is so important for us all to follow best practices, including those in last week’s newsletter on illness and screening.

As daunting as all this is, know that we are planning for ways that we can support those who are required to be home in any of the above scenarios, and that support will include lesson plans AND 1:1 or small groups check-ins from the classroom teacher(s).

Again, if you have any questions or concerns, please reach out to me or to a dean of students. We look forward to seeing you soon!


Peter Marth