ANSWERS TO COVID-19 FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS
(as of March 26, 2021)
Potential Exposure to Virus
How does the Department of Health discern between different types of exposures?
The District completes a Contact Tracing Worksheet with information, context, and details such as: how long you were exposed, how close you were to the case, whether the encounter was masked or mask-less, if there was an air filter in the room, if the room was properly ventilated and other details as well. This information is used to define the type of contact.
What constitutes an exposure that warrants quarantining?
Anyone who is a close contact must quarantine. This is defined as being within 6 feet of a person displaying symptoms of or testing positive for COVID-19 for 10 minutes or longer.
Proximate contact is defined as an individual being in the same enclosed environment such as a classroom or office, but greater than 6 feet from a person displaying symptoms of or testing positive for COVID-19.
We follow criteria from the Ulster County School District COVID-19 Mitigation Guidance and Testing and Tracing Plan, which determines a proximate contact to a symptomatic person and the criteria to determine when a person in contact with a confirmed COVID-19 positive case should be quarantined. This is based on a point system, where the greater the points, the greater the risk and more likely the proximate contact will have to be quarantined.
A proximate contact to an individual 48 hours or less before they are confirmed positive for COVID-19 will have to be quarantined in both indoor classroom setting and a bus setting.
What is Contact Tracing?
Contact tracing involves determining who is considered a close contact or has been exposed, based on the point system. The District reports each positive COVID-19 case to the UCDOH, along with the names and phone numbers of those who meet the criteria of being a close contact. The nurses and school staff will begin collecting pertinent information for contact tracing right away to provide the UCDOH, so please reach out immediately.
To alert your school of a positive or potentially positive scenario that may require contact tracing and quarantining, send an email which includes your building principal, school nurse, and COVID Safety Coordinator.
The appropriate contacts are listed here:
COVID Safety Coordinator: Fredericka Butler, email@example.com 845-594-3646
Duzine: Principal Ross Hogan firstname.lastname@example.org
Nurse Joy VanVlack email@example.com
Nurse’s office: 845-256-4360
Lenape: Principal Sean Inglee firstname.lastname@example.org
Nurse Maria Meoli email@example.com
Nurse’s office: 845-256-4310
NPMS: Principal Ann Sheldon, firstname.lastname@example.org
Nurse Erin Bush email@example.com
Nurse’s Office: 845-256-4210
NPHS: Principal Mario Fernandez, firstname.lastname@example.org
Nurse Sandy Hekking email@example.com
Nurse’s Office: 845-256-4110
Whose guidance does the District follow regarding quarantine?
UCDOH sets the guidelines for the District. Their guidance can be found here: https://covid19.ulstercountyny.gov/
What does “quarantining” mean?
Quarantining means that you keep yourself separate from others. It is different from isolating, or removing yourself from an infectious situation. To properly quarantine, you must use separate bathrooms and bedrooms, as well as not share family meals or dinnerware. You will be required to quarantine until the period of being contagious is over, as determined by UCDOH.
How does quarantining differ from isolating (with a sick family member)?
Isolation must occur when a sick individual lives with others (not sick) in the same household. The sick individual cannot spend time in the same room as family members, must sleep in a separate area, use different eating utensils and use a different bathroom.
Quarantine separates and restricts the movement of people who were exposed to a contagious disease to see if they become sick. These individuals may move about the home together without the need to isolate from one another, until/unless symptoms develop or a positive test result is received. Quarantine is mandated by the Department of Health.
Who do we contact at the District when we are required to quarantine after a positive or suspected positive test result, or after traveling internationally or domestically to a noncontiguous state?
Please contact your building principal, school nurse, and COVID Safety Coordinator, Fredericka Butler, firstname.lastname@example.org 845-594-3646.
We encourage you to reach out with a positive test result immediately so that we can begin Contract Tracing among other staff and students. Please contact your building principal, school nurse, and COVID Safety Coordinator, Fredericka Butler, who is reachable at email@example.com or call 845-594-3646 (see above contact information in Potential Exposure to Virus section).
Who is responsible for notifying the UCDOH about a positive test result or exposure?
If a staff member tests positive, the office that tested them sends info to the UCDOH. The UCDOH then reaches out to the staff member about quarantining. If a staff member has been exposed to someone who has tested positive and reports it to us, our nurses check on particulars, such as, who that person has been in contact with in school, when, and if the person has symptoms. The nurse then files a report with UCDOH.
If I am quarantined by the Department of Health as a result of exposure, may I teach or work from home?
If mandated to quarantine by the Department of Health, Deputy Superintendent Michelle Martoni will advise you if you will be allowed to work remotely.
Do we quarantine for 10 days or 14 days?
You must quarantine for 10 days, but you must continue to monitor your health for an additional four days. If you develop symptoms during that time, you’ll need to get a Polymerase Chain Reaction (PCR) Covid-19 test.
Possible quarantine scenarios:
Scenario 1: Close contact with someone who has COVID-19—will not have further close contact.
I had close contact with someone who has COVID-19 and will not have further contact or interactions with the person while they are sick (e.g., co-worker, neighbor, or friend). Your last day of quarantine is 10 days from the date you had close contact.
Scenario 2: Close contact with someone who has COVID-19—live with the person but can avoid further close contact
I live with someone who has COVID-19 (e.g., roommate, partner, family member), and that person has been isolated by staying in a separate bedroom. I have had no close contact with the person since they isolated themselves. Your last day of quarantine is 10 days from when the person with COVID-19 began home isolation.
Scenario 3. Under quarantine and had additional close contact with someone who has COVID-19
I live with someone who has COVID-19 and started my 10-day quarantine period because we had close contact. What if I ended up having close contact with the person who is sick during my quarantine? What if another household member gets sick with COVID-19? Do I need to restart my quarantine? Yes. You will have to restart your quarantine from the last day you had close contact with anyone in your house who has COVID-19. Any time a new household member gets sick with COVID-19 and you had close contact, you will need to restart your quarantine. Date of additional close contact with a person who has COVID-19 + 10 days = end of quarantine
Scenario 4: Live with someone who has COVID-19 and cannot avoid continued close contact
I live in a household where I cannot avoid close contact with the person who has COVID-19. I am providing direct care to the person who is sick, don’t have a separate bedroom to isolate the person who is sick, or live in close quarters where I am unable to keep a physical distance of 6 feet. You should avoid contact with others outside the home while the person is sick, and quarantine for 10 days after the person who has COVID-19 meets the criteria to end home isolation. Date the person with COVID-19 ends home isolation + 10 days = end of quarantine
Why do some staff/students have to quarantine and others do not?
Each case varies, with differing factors (see answers in Potential Exposure to Virus section to learn more about those factors). Staff/students must quarantine if they were directly exposed to someone with COVID-19 or exposed to someone who has COVID-like symptoms and is awaiting test results. Determinations are made using criteria found on a Contact Tracing Worksheet that contains information, context, and details such as: how long you were exposed, how close you were to the case, whether the encounter was masked or mask-less, if there was an air filter in the room, if the room was properly ventilated and other details as well.
How does one avoid quarantine?
If your exposure is to a “presumed positive” person (NYSDOH defines a “presumed positive” case as a person who has symptoms that could be related to COVID-19 but has not received documentation of a negative COVID test or a different diagnosis from their healthcare provider) and they receive a negative PCR test result, the UCDOH will advise that you no longer need to quarantine.
If you are designated a contact of a confirmed positive person, you cannot leave quarantine until 10 days after your last exposure to the person.
What happens in New York if I don't quarantine for COVID-19 when I have been ordered to?
Failure to quarantine is a violation of State law, and individuals who fail to quarantine are subject to a $10,000 fine. Individuals who refuse to fill out the New York State Department of Health travel form are subject to a $2,000 fine.
Out-of-State Travel (per the current, updated guidelines)
Effective April 1, 2021:
According to state guidance, starting April 1, domestic travelers will no longer be required to quarantine after entering New York from another state or territory. While no longer required, the NYSDOH still recommends quarantine after domestic travel as an added precaution. Mandatory quarantine remains in effect for international travelers. All travelers must continue to fill out the Traveler Health Form. Individuals should continue strict adherence to all safety guidelines to stop the spread: wearing masks, socially distancing, and avoiding gatherings.
Whose guidance does the District follow regarding travel?
The District follows and adheres to the travel guidelines adopted by the New York State Department of Health (NYSDOH) in conjunction with the Ulster County Department of Health (UCDOH) and the District medical director.
How long must I stay in quarantine after traveling?
10 days, unless you wish to “test out” of the mandatory quarantine as described below.
Can I take a test after returning from out-of-state travel to avoid quarantine?
According to state guidance one may take a COVID-19 PCR test within 72 hours of arrival back to New York State, and then test again on day four. If both tests are returned negative, the individual can be released early from quarantine.
Where can I travel that will not require me to quarantine upon return?
Staff members who have been fully vaccinated against COVID-19 do not have to quarantine upon their return to New York from out-of-state, domestic travel. Those who return to New York after international travel still must adhere to quarantine guidelines as described above.
Travelers returning from states that are contiguous with New York are exempt from the travel advisory. Contiguous states are: Pennsylvania, New Jersey, Connecticut, Massachusetts, and Vermont.
If I travel to a noncontiguous state and must quarantine upon return, may I teach or work from home during the quarantine period?
The District policy is that anyone who travels to a noncontiguous state and must quarantine upon return may not work remotely or teach from home during the quarantine period.
Returning to Work After COVID-19 or a Quarantine
In order to return to work prior to the end of the 10-day quarantine, you must be cleared by UCDOH and produce a negative Polymerase Chain Reaction (PCR) test for the District. Please be advised that UCDOH has been experiencing a backlog of cases and there have been delays in receiving the release orders. You can use the “self-service’ form found under the Quarantining Section if you find UCDOH is experiencing delays.
What documentation does the District require to be submitted and to whom?
You must provide a copy of the "release from quarantine" email that you receive from UCDOH to your school building’s nurse, the school principal and District COVID-19 Safety Coordinator, Fredericka Butler.
What tests are acceptable/unacceptable?
The District is able to accept a PCR test result, however is unable to accept rapid test results.
What happens when my quarantine is over but I do not have the release forms from the UCDOH to return to work?
Sometimes on weekends, evenings and holidays, our nurses cannot get in touch with UCDOH. The Health Department has been inundated with COVID-19 cases and has set up a ‘self-serve’ form, due to an overwhelming demand for quarantine orders and quarantine releases. Please use this if you have not received the document(s) you needed. Please fill out this form if you have remained symptom-free throughout the quarantine period. It should be filled out on the last day of quarantine (or after the quarantine period is completed). After you fill out the form, the documents will be emailed to you. It may take up to three hours to receive the email after you complete the form. And depending on your email platform/settings, the email may be in your Spam or ‘Other’ folder. https://covid19.ulstercountyny.gov/quarantine-form/
New York doesn't require a PCR test, so why does NPCSD?
The District policy states that we are unable to accept the negative results of a rapid test due to their overall inaccuracy. This policy has been affirmed by our medical director.
If a staff member is already fully immunized, do they have to follow the same travel quarantine rules as staff who are not fully immunized?
Staff members who have been fully vaccinated against COVID-19 do not have to quarantine upon their return to New York from out-of-state, domestic travel if they are within 90 days of immunization. Those who return to New York after international travel still must adhere to the same quarantine guidelines as staff members who have not been immunized.
Do I still have to wear a mask to school after being vaccinated?
Yes, you must continue to wear a mask and follow all social distancing guidelines.
Can I still transmit the virus even though I am vaccinated?
It is not known. Clinical trials did not measure whether vaccination decreases the ability to transmit the virus to someone else.
Do I still have to get tested?
Domestic travelers to New York who have been vaccinated (and it has been at least two weeks since receiving the second vaccine if it is Moderna or Pfizer, or at least two weeks since the Johnson and Johnson vaccine), no longer have to quarantine or test out within 90 days of their full vaccination. International travelers returning to New York State still must adhere to the same guidelines as those who have not been fully vaccinated.
Why is it that the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), New York State, and even Ulster County announce guideline changes but the District does not immediately implement the changed guidelines?
Since the CDC is a federal agency, each state first must review and deliberate before distributing CDC guidance, which the local governments then implement. In New York, Governor Cuomo reviews the CDC guidance, then after a period may distribute the guidance for the counties of New York to follow. Once the county health departments review and distribute the guidance, school districts are only then able to implement that guidance.
When being tested, why do some people get their noses poked with the COVID swab, and others get a gentle swirling in the nostrils?
Different tests require different specimen collection. You can read more about it here: https://www.fda.gov/media/140161/download
Will the school or county contact tracers use the name of the infected person when communicating with those who have been exposed?
No, we advise people that they were in contact with someone who tested positive for COVID-19, but we do not share personal or identifying information.
What resources do you suggest that individuals read?
Please refer to https://covid19.ulstercountyny.gov/ or the NYS CoronaVirus hotline: 888-364-3605