(Nov. 20, 2020) Lauren Williams, the coordinator of school health services at Worcester County Public Schools, provided a covid-19 update on Tuesday to the Worcester County Board of Education, and included information on safety guidelines and protocols for positive covid-19 tests.
Worcester County’s coronavirus positivity rate increased by 3.15 percent from Oct. 31 to Nov. 14.
When the county school system made the decision to close for two weeks last weekend, the seven-day moving average of new case rate per 100,000 people in the jurisdiction was 18.31 cases.
Showing a slide presentation on the metrics governing the stages of students’ return to school, she said the critical measures are a testing positivity level (the percentage of tests that show positive for an infection) of above 5 percent and an infection rate greater than 15 new cases per 100,000.
Gov. Larry Hogan also advises school systems to reassess their return plans if the positivity rate in the jurisdiction increases 1.5 percent within two weeks.
Williams shared the Maryland Department of Health’s definitions of a classroom outbreak and a school outbreak.
A classroom outbreak is when two or more laboratory-confirmed covid-19 cases occur among students, teachers or staff within a two-week period in one classroom, according to the state health department.
A school outbreak is defined as three or more classrooms with cases from separate households within 14 days, or five percent or more of unrelated (at least 10) students, teachers and staff have confirmed covid-19 cases within a two-week period.
“In Worcester County, we did have one classroom outbreak at Stephen Decatur High School, but our swift action and adherence to our safety protocols kept us from having a further outbreak,” Williams said.
Protocols for students, teachers and staff with covid-like illnesses and positive covid-19 tests as well as the covid-19 screening form are available on worcesterk12.org.
“When an individual does test positive for covid-19, we work very closely with our health department,” Williams said.
The county school system’s contact tracing notification process balances transparency and individual privacy.
If a student is identified as a close contact, the child and the family will likely be informed by a member of the Worcester County Public Schools staff as well as receive a letter indicating that the child must remain out of the school building for 14 days from their last close contact with the ill person and monitor symptoms during the two-week period.