Anchorage School District revises COVID-19 protocols regarding asymptomatic close contacts
ANCHORAGE, Alaska (KTUU) - The Anchorage School District is revising its COVID-19 protocols, saying those who are considered close contacts to someone who tests positive for the virus that are not experiencing symptoms will no longer need to quarantine.
The announcement came in an email from Superintendent Deena Bishop sent to parents Monday evening. Bishop wrote in the email that the protocols were changed “in response to the needs of our community.”
Bishop cited internal data, which she said showed that “very few” positive cases could be traced back to close contacts. She also mentioned the “burden” put on parents who need to take off of work to watch their children who are quarantined and the inability of the district to stop kids from being together in non-school-related activities.
“We were struggling, number one, to identify close contacts,” Bishop said Tuesday. “When you ask an 8-year-old who comes up positive, maybe four days later, ‘who were you playing with four to six days ago?’ it’s very difficult to identify.”
“We were over-identifying students. Students were missing school, up to 10 days to quarantine, that were healthy kids” Bishop said.
Bishop wrote that although the district will not require asymptomatic close contacts to quarantine, they will require students and staff experiencing symptoms to stay home until they receive a negative test result, note from a doctor or isolate for 10 days.
The district will continue to require anyone who tests positive to isolate. One of the topics of highest concern among parents was notification, Bishop said Tuesday, clarifying the communication process.
Parents of students determined to be close contacts will still be notified with a letter and a phone call. Other students in the class will receive a letter, and if there is a significant incident in the school, the district will still notify the entire school.
“One message remains throughout this pandemic: Keep ASD Symptom Free,” Bishop wrote in Monday’s email. “The best way to keep our schools open and safe is to stay home even with mild symptoms. This, along with the use of layered prevention strategies like vaccination, masking, ventilation, physical distancing, and testing, has held true.”
The new COVID-19 protocols will be put into effect starting Monday.
Editor’s note: This story has been updated to include new information and quotes from an interview with Superintendent Deena Bishop on Tuesday.
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