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12/14/2021 - A message from Superintendent of Schools Kevin Case - 12/14/21

12/14/21
Dear Canton Residents,
 
I hope you and your family had a great weekend! I'm writing with an update on COVID Health Metrics in our Canton Schools and the Farmington Valley. You can expect these updates weekly  moving forward. This is being sent to you today as I was awaiting the most recent data from the Farmington Valley Health District (FVHD) which I received today. 

Case Rates
As of December 4th, there was an average positive case rate of 22.3 individuals per 100,000 over a two week period in Canton, up from 13.9 individuals, the week ending November 18th.  This past week, through last Friday mid-day,  the Canton Public Schools experienced eighteen (18) new COVID-19 cases: eight (8) at Cherry Brook Primary School; Five (5) at Canton Intermediate School; Four (4) at Canton Middle School; and One (1) at Canton High School. Several of these cases are within the same household. Social gatherings seem to be the most common form of exposure. The FVHD continues to encourage mask wearing when in public spaces, regardless of vaccination status, as community transmission rates are very high. The FVHD is strongly encouraging anyone with cold - like symptoms to seek a test to reduce the spread. They are finding that many individuals are presenting to work and school with symptoms. 

In the Farmington Valley:
 - 20.9% of total reported cases are in individuals ages 4-17 years old
 - 28% of total reported cases are in individuals ages 20-39 years old
 - 31% of total reported cases are in individuals 40-59 years old
 - 17% of total reported cases are in individuals 60 and older  

Vaccination
The CT DPH continues to stress that the most important mitigation strategy is vaccination. In order to quickly determine the extent to which quarantining is required for close contacts to a positive case, we will be asking students to share their vaccination cards with us. This is not mandatory nor a requirement for attendance by students, but is a strong recommendation from the Farmington Valley Health District. This information will be kept confidential by the school nurses and only accessed for contact tracing purposes when necessary.  

If you would like to to share evidence of your child’s vaccination status to assist in possible future contact tracing, please send a hard copy or email/fax an electronic copy to Diane Sodaro at dsodaro@cantonschools.org  or fax 860-693-5837.

Daily Family Guidance from the Farmington Valley Health District
Please review the guidance from the Farmington Valley Health District regarding daily home screening for COVID-19.  We encourage you to continue daily screenings for COVID-19 symptoms and communicate with our health offices if your child or family member has been in close contact with anyone confirmed with COVID-19.  Additionally, If ANYONE in your home has been tested for COVID-19 (excluding routine testing) OR is symptomatic, please, DO NOT send your unvaccinated child to school until the results have been obtained.  Please find the attached document provided by the Farmington Valley Health District to support this important work.

"Screen and Stay"
Recently, Governor Lamont shared information regarding the “Screen and Stay” program brought forth by the CT Department of Health to assist with school-based quarantines.  Please note that this strategy is confined to certain circumstances, within the schools.

Students and staff who are not fully vaccinated may remain in school after a close contact, provided:
The only contact occurred during the school day (no extracurricular or social contact)
If indoors or on a school bus or other transportation, both the contact and the case were masked during exposure
During brief unmasked periods (e.g., mask breaks, snack time, lunch) where 6' or more of space was maintained
If outdoors, masked or unmasked but staff supervised (e.g., mask breaks, PE, recess)
Contact remains asymptomatic (any symptoms revert to regular isolation/quarantine)

Scenarios that would not support a Screen and Stay approach:
Contact with a case during interscholastic or other athletic activities (other than during supervised PE)
Contact occurring during social interactions or similar activities outside of school
Contact where the case or contact is not consistently and correctly wearing a mask indoors (e.g., eating, wind instrument playing) and 6' of distance is not maintained
Household contacts (i.e., the contact lives with case)
The contact cannot consistently and correctly wear a mask  (and cannot be provided appropriate alternative protective strategies) or cannot perform daily symptom screening

Students in the Screen and Stay protocol will be required to affirm 
That they have read and understand the Screen and Stay Requirements
That they intend to screen for symptoms each day prior to school for 14 calendar days
That they intend to remain home and notify the school if symptoms develop

Screen and Stay applies to in-person learning only, and regular quarantine procedures should continue to be used for athletics, extracurriculars, and other activities outside of the school day.

It is important to note that this protocol is optional for staff/students/families.  Close contacts may opt to quarantine at home if they prefer.

While the process may be a bit cumbersome for those families, we are pleased that we have one more tool at our disposal to keep students engaged with in-person learning.

For additional information, please feel free to review this linked document from the Connecticut Department of Public Health.

As any additional information becomes available, we will be certain to provide it to our community.

Mask Wearing
The Governor has issued Executive Order No. 14 extending the mask requirement. Masks remain required for all individuals indoors in schools and whenever students are riding the bus through February 15, 2022. Students are not required to wear masks when outside (ie... recess or outdoor instruction).  If there are any changes, the district will communicate them in a timely manner.  Please continue to send your child(ren) to school with a clean mask each day. There are extremely rare conditions where a child would qualify for a mask exemption. When this occurs, other mitigation strategies are put in place for the child.
 
Stay well and have a great week!
 
Sincerely,
Kevin D. Case
Superintendent of Schools