Hoboken Public School District Superintendent Dr. Christine Johnson discussed possible COVID-19 scenarios at the Hoboken Board of Education meeting on Oct. 13 to address questions from parents and families regarding quarantine.
According to Johnson, since school has reopened through its hybrid model in which some students are taught in person rather than remotely, parents have questions about the possible need to quarantine in the future.
Johnson said that while no students or teachers have tested positive for the virus at the k-12 level, she felt it was important to go over several scenarios and procedures the district will follow should an individual test positive in the future.
“We do have a tight plan, and we will continue to follow that plan with fidelity,” Johnson said.
According to Johnson, should a child or teacher test positive for COVID-19, that class would be required to quarantine for 14 days.
She said the classroom nextdoor would not be required to quarantine unless both classes spent more than 10 minutes together, and the students did not maintain a social distance of six feet or more during those 10 minutes.
“If there was an individual child that did so from a neighboring class with the positive case, or if the positive case was the teacher, and he or she had lunch, for example, with the neighboring teacher from the classroom next door, then that teacher would quarantine for 14 days, but not the entire class unless he or she tests positive him or herself,” said Johnson.
Too close for comfort
She said it was important for people to know that “COVID quarantine requirements are based on person-to-person proximity, not location or place.”
She added that if there is a recreation event, and a child on the team tests positive, the city’s health department would begin contact tracing, and children on that team would be contacted and instructed to quarantine.
“The classroom of the child who tests positive will also be asked to quarantine; the students and the teacher,” said Johnson, noting that the classes of the quarantined classmates from the child’s team would not be asked to quarantine unless they themselves have tested positive.
For families with multiple children in the district, Johnson said that if there is a student on quarantine due to a positive case in that student’s class, then his or her siblings do not need to quarantine. ”However, parents may certainly opt to do so out of precaution.”
She said if a teacher has a child in another district, and that child is asked to quarantine due to a positive case in the classroom, then neither the teacher nor his or her class will be instructed to quarantine unless the teacher’s child tests positive.
If that happens, then both the teacher and the teacher’s class will be quarantined.
Johnson said if a parent of a child tests positive, then the child would be quarantined and the class notified “but until the child in that classroom actually tests positive, then the entire classroom would not be quarantined.”
Johnson said right now the administration is working on creating an easy-to-read “if/then“ flow chart which will be published on the district’s website to help families.
“We are at a point now in this time of year where kids are participating in a lot of outside activities, recreation activities, and people are moving about a little bit more openly and freely, and questions are popping up in multiple schools,” said Johnson, adding that the district follows the guidance that’s been put forth by the Hoboken Department of Health very carefully.
“We do not veer from that guidance at all,” Johnson said. “However, we always tell parents it is their option and it is their right to make a decision that’s best for their family.”