OCA’S 2021-22 COVID GUIDELINES

LATEST UPDATES 

Last Updated January 11, 2022

  • Please keep your child home if any symptoms, even if it looks like they just have a cold.
  • Reinforce the importance of following school masking rules.
  • Let us know if you have updated information regarding your child’s vaccination status.
  • Keep the lines of communication open with us – we work best in partnership.
  • We are a very resilient community – being flexible, adaptable, and following guidelines have served us well.

Policies:

Symptoms of illness with no known exposure

Stay home and consult with physician.

Return to school after fever- and symptom-free for 24 hours and either:

  • Negative PCR or rapid antigen test (home tests not accepted)
  • Pediatrician provides note of alternative diagnosis.
COVID-19 positive

ECC isolate for 10 days after symptoms start or positive test.

ES/MS isolate for 5 days after symptoms start or positive test. Return to school after day 5 when asymptomatic or fever-free for at least 24 hours without fever-reducing medication.

Case of known exposure – fully vaccinated or recently recovered from COVID-19

Fully vaccinated students and teachers or those who recovered from COVID-19 (either within the prior 6 months) do not need to test or quarantine as long as they are asymptomatic.

(CDC recommends testing on day 5; please consult with your physician.)

Case of known exposure – unvaccinated or more than 6 months post-COVID

IN-SCHOOL OR BRIEF OUT-OF-SCHOOL EXPOSURE:
Quarantine 5 days after infected individual’s first symptoms appeared. Return to school on day 6 as long as they are asymptomatic.

HOUSEHOLD EXPOSURE:
Quarantine 10 days after infected individual’s first symptoms appeared. Return to school on day 11 as long as they are asymptomatic.

(In both cases, CDC recommends testing on day 5; please consult with your pediatrician.)

Classwide Quarantines

ECC
BCHD – Quarantine 10 days when a child or teacher tests positive and class is well-masked.
Zoom will be offered to 3s and 4s, plus packets and calls home.

ECC/ES/MS
Fully vaccinated and COVID-recovered students will be able to come to school even if rest of the class is in quarantine.
Zoom, video lessons and/or asynchronous work plus teacher outreach depending on grade and class provided for those in quarantine

Previous Updates

Updated: November 8, 2021

KEY MESSAGES from Parent Meeting on 11/7/2021
OCA’s overriding goals:

  1. Protect the health and safety of our students and staff – including both physical and emotional health.
  2. Provide an outstanding educational experience for our students.

– Everyone, whether they have been vaccinated or had COVID needs to wear a mask at this time as the city mandate is still in effect. (Please note, we follow MSDE guidelines for the ECC).

– Please keep your children home if they have even the slightest symptoms, like a stuffy nose, congestion, sore throat, headache, or fatigue. Stay in touch with the school if your child has an exposure, is getting tested, or tested positive.
 
– We shortened the length of quarantine this year following state guidance to help keep students in school. The shortest quarantine is 7 days long but only if students test negative on a PCR around day 5. Testing identifies students who might be positive and helps us reopen classes sooner.
 
– The most effective way to protect our students is through vaccination. OCA will not mandate vaccines for our students. Vaccinated students, unless they are symptomatic, do not have to quarantine or get tested if exposed to someone who is positive.
 
– Once the city mandate is lifted and 80% of our ES-MS students are EITHER vaccinated or covid-recovered (within the past 9 months), OCA will go mask-optional.

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Updated: October 25, 2021

As a school, OCA is committed to striving for a balance between allowing our students to enjoy learning and socializing normally while protecting the health of our students and staff. 

OCA has adapted throughout the pandemic, updating its policies as understanding about COVID-19 in children has evolved and taking into account viral conditions in our community, as well. We understand the frustration this has caused and want to assure you that we are doing everything possible to keep our students’ health, education, and socialization at the forefront of every decision we make.

Given the complexity of navigating the pandemic this year, we created an expanded committee of medical and public health advisors who have been closely tracking the data and the policies of the city, state, and CDC. We are enormously grateful to the following physicians and scientists for sharing their diverse expertise and guidance with us:

Dr. Naor Bar Zeev
Dr. Michael Kleinberg
Dr. Brian Neuman

With vaccines soon available for children ages 5-11, we have been advised that we can make some adjustments to our policies for grades K-8 to help us navigate that balance without compromising the safety of our community (ECC policies remain under licensing guidelines).

Updates:

  • Vaccines are not required, but we encourage parents to discuss vaccinating their children against COVID-19 and influenza with their children’s pediatricians.
  • Vaccinated students and teachers (or those who recovered from COVID-19 within the prior 9 months) are not required to test or quarantine in case of exposure as long as they are asymptomatic.
    • It’s important to note that the CDC recommends testing day 5-7 in vaccinated individuals, but quarantine is not required while awaiting results unless symptomatic. Please speak to your pediatrician for guidance.
  • Students and teachers regardless of vaccination status who develop symptoms of an illness, but have had no known exposure, should reach out to their doctor for guidance regarding testing. They may return to school with an alternate diagnosis or negative test after being fever and symptom-free for 24 hours.
  • Unvaccinated students who have a prolonged indoor exposure will still need to quarantine (test on day 5, return on day 8 with a negative PCR or return on day 11 without testing).
  • If one or more students in a class develop symptomatic COVID-19, we will review the situation and make determinations about closures on a case by case basis. We will continue to keep classes open if the class wears masks indoors. We will also keep classes open if the majority of students in the class are vaccinated.
  • To maintain transparency and give parents the information they need to make decisions for their children, we will continue to communicate to parents of the class when a child tests positive and was in school within 48 hours of developing symptoms or testing positive,
  • Masks will continue to be required of all students and staff until masks are no longer required by Baltimore City.

The past 19 months have presented incomparable challenges to each of us as individuals and as a school, and through it all, our faculty, staff, and families have done an extraordinary job of making the best of difficult circumstances on behalf of our students. Through it all, our resilient students have been learning and playing beautifully and, b’H, our school is growing! 

We will continue to update you as the return to normalcy approaches and we thank you for your shared commitment to the health of OCA. 

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Updated: September 20, 2021

Current COVID-19 Regulations Mandated by Baltimore City Health Department 

    • If one case is identified in a classroom and all are masked, the class does not need to quarantine. Students are asked to get tested immediately and again on Day 5.
    • If two or more cases from different households are identified in one classroom within a two-week period, the class is required to quarantine. 
    • If three or more classrooms have cases from different households within a two-week period the school is required to close. 

Please note that the Baltimore City Health Department does not take into account where the cases originated.  As such, we encourage unvaccinated students to wear a mask while indoors with other unvaccinated people.

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What’s new this year?

    • No more plexiglass or classroom pods
    • Cross-grade activities such as Choice Time, electives, assemblies, lunch, and recess are returning.
    • After-school activities, including sports, crafts, and the OCA school play are back.
    • Daily symptom screening in grades K-8 applies only to children who are symptomatic. PerMSDE licensing requirements, ECC parents still need to complete their child(ren)’s screening every morning before arrival and recheck their child(ren)’s temperature at drop-off. 
    • There are no restrictions on travel, hosting out-of-town guests, or large gatherings, but we recommend following MD state guidelines to test 1-3 days post-return, especially after attending a large gathering or traveling to a community where there is a widespread COVID transmission. 

Quarantine Criteria

    • Students getting tested for an illness should remain at home pending test results. 
    • Students getting tested for any reason other than an illness or an exposure (e.g. pre-op or pre-travel surveillance screening), CAN come to school pending results. 
    • If a family member or close contact of a student is being tested (whether for an illness or other reason) but has had NO known exposure to COVID-19, the student CAN come to school pending test results. If the family member or close contact getting tested DOES have a known COVID exposure, the student should remain at home pending results. 
    • If a K-8 student tests positive after having been in school and everyone in the class is masked, the class does NOT need to quarantine. The ill child will stay home and the parents of the class will be advised to get their children tested. MSDE licensing will determine quarantine guidelines for the ECC. 
    • Zoom learning will only be offered when a class as a whole has been quarantined. Individual students who are home sick or in quarantine will receive assignments to complete at home. 
    • To reduce the number of COVID policy emails, we created a COVID-19 landing page on the OCA website (ocabaltimore.org/covid). When updates are posted, we will direct parents to view the revised policies via a link in the Daily Update.

The mainstays of our layered approach to keeping our school healthy continue to be:

  • Staying home if one has any symptoms of illness, pending test results and until fever- and symptom-free for at least 24 hours without medication 
  • Staying home if one has had direct exposure outside of school to someone who tests positive – speak to Mrs. Lawrence for quarantine details
  • Indoor masking, ventilation, outdoor learning, and sanitizing
  • Staying in close contact with Mrs. Lawrence with questions or to communicate a child’s health status

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Updated: May 19, 2021

  • TRAVEL UPDATE: Students may travel out of state by car to visit with fully vaccinated individuals, and may return to school without quarantine or testing. If students spend time indoors with other children or adults who have not been vaccinated (or had COVID within the last 90 days), the recommendation is to have those individuals get tested before spending the time together. We are now recommending, but not requiring, that students test after travel of longer than 24 hours and after attending large gatherings.
  • COMMUNICATION UPDATE: Moving forward we will only notify parents if a member of the class tests positive for COVID-19, rather than communicating each time a child in the class gets tested.
  • CLOSE CONTACT UPDATE: If a student’s sibling is being tested for COVID, but has no known exposure, the student will no longer need to stay home while awaiting test results. The child being tested must stay home until results are available, and/or they are symptom free for 24 hours.

GENERAL GUIDELINES

Updated: May 19, 2021

For UNVACCINATED INDIVIDUALS (e.g., students):

Per the latest CDC update, a group of individuals who are ALL fully vaccinated may safely meet indoors unmasked, along with one family with unvaccinated individuals at a time. This would allow for example fully vaccinated grandparents to meet with one family of unvaccinated, but healthy, grandchildren safely. 

NEW – OCA will now allow day trips out of state to visit indoors with people who are either fully vaccinated or are within 90 days of a confirmed COVID infection without quarantining upon return. Students may also take a day trip to attend a small socially distant outdoor gathering in or out of state without quarantine unless they develop symptoms or have a known or suspected exposure.

Our large gathering and overnight travel policies remain in place.
We are recommending, but not requiring, Students who spend longer than 15 minutes in a 24-hour period with non-immunized, non-household members in a setting in which six feet social distancing with masks cannot be assured (e.g., crowded indoor gatherings) should quarantine, test on Day 5, and return to school no sooner than Day 8 with a negative PCR test and no symptoms. Students who do not test are to quarantine for 10 days and return on Day 11.

Our guest and visitor policy remains in place.
Any unvaccinated (or not fully vaccinated) guests who stay overnight in your home are recommended to test within three days of arrival and quarantine while awaiting results. If unable to test prior to arrival, they should test after arriving and quarantine while awaiting results. OCA students may attend school while the visitors quarantine and test as long as they are not symptomatic and have no known exposure to illness. Vaccinated travelers do not need to test as long as they remain well.

Our close contact policy remains in place.
Students or unvaccinated adults whose family members or close contacts are getting tested due to known exposure should also continue to stay home pending test results. If a student’s sibling is being tested for COVID, but has no known exposure, the student does not need to stay home while awaiting test results. The child being tested must stay home until results are available, and/or they are symptom free for 24 hours.

 

For VACCINATED STAFF or those who are within 90 days of a COVID-19 diagnosis:
Those who are fully vaccinated (two weeks after the second dose of Moderna or Pfizer or two weeks after the Johnson & Johnson) or who are within 90 days of a COVID-19 diagnosis may travel domestically and attend large gatherings without quarantine and testing afterward.

Please continue to distance and mask when in large groups of people and practice hand hygiene regularly because a small percentage of fully vaccinated individuals will still develop COVID-19. Watch closely for the development of symptoms. Quarantining and testing may be warranted if symptoms develop. 

Based on CDC recommendations, OCA requires fully vaccinated international travelers to get a COVID test 5 days after returning to the US. Quarantine is not necessary while awaiting test results. 

Vaccinated individuals who are unwell, but who do not have known exposure to COVID or who haven’t traveled should contact their doctor regarding testing.

 

For EVERYONE:
New and more contagious variants are spreading by unvaccinated individuals. It is essential to continue to mask, avoid large gatherings, and limit travel to prevent the spread of COVID-19.

Anyone with COVID-like symptoms (e.g., cough or loss of taste or smell or any 2 other symptoms) should continue to stay home from school and reach out to their doctor to discuss whether testing is appropriate.