The Montgomery County Office of Public Health (MCOPH) or other designated department/office of public health (OPH) will notify families of the requirement to isolate or quarantine. The Lower Merion School District (LMSD) will assist in these efforts, but does not have the legal or medical authority to issue an isolation or quarantine order. The MCOPH shares information with LMSD regarding individuals infected with or in close contact with infected individuals when they deem it necessary for public safety.
What is Isolation?
If you test positive for COVID-19, or have COVID-19-like symptoms, you will be asked to isolate. Isolation is a health care term that means keeping individuals who are infected with a contagious illness away from those who are not infected. Isolation can take place at home, at a hospital or at a care facility. The Montgomery County Office of Public Health (MCOPH) requires isolation for 10 days from the onset of symptoms AND fever free for 24 hours AND improved symptoms or 10 days from the date of the positive test if an individual is not having symptoms. The MCOPH/OPH will provide individuals with the date that they may return to work or school.
What is Quarantine?
Individuals who have been identified as close contacts (within six feet for 15 minutes or more or live in the same household as an infected individual) and who are at risk for infection with COVID-19 should quarantine. The MCOPH/OPH requires quarantine for 14 days after the date of last exposure to the infected individual. Individuals who live with a person infected with COVID-19 will quarantine for 14 days beyond the infected individual's 10-day isolation period. Staying away from people during the quarantine period provides enough time for them to know whether they will become ill and be contagious to other people. A negative COVID-19 test result during the individual's quarantine does not shorten the time for quarantine. A note from an individual's health care provider will not shorten the period of quarantine. The MCOPH/OPH will provide individuals with the date that they may return to work or school.
How Does the Notification Process Work?
It is important to understand that, at any given time in the larger community, people are quarantined on orders from the MCOPH. This is consistent with the positivity rate and incidence rate in Montgomery County, which, as of the date of this At-A-Glance, has remained stable over the last couple of months. People on quarantine have been in direct contact (generally within six feet for 15 minutes or more) with a person who has a positive COVID-19 test or live in the same household with someone infected with COVID-19. The quarantine is necessary to keep them home in the event they develop symptoms during the two- to 14-day incubation period. This does not mean they are infectious, only that they should be home for the amount of time when symptoms may occur. When people quarantine, it means the system is working as it should.
All positive lab tests for COVID-19 must be reported to the local health department where they are conducted. For example, if a Montgomery County resident has a positive test in Montgomery County, it will be reported to the Montgomery County Office of Public Health. The MCOPH will then contact the person with the positive result and work to identify people who have had the close contact (within six feet for 15 min or more or a household contact). They (MCOPH) will contact these people and direct them to quarantine.
If the MCOPH wants assistance with this (for example, the positive person works in or attends LMSD), they will contact us for assistance. The MCOPH typically only contacts those people with positive tests or those who must be quarantined. If the person with the positive test is an employee or a student in LMSD, the MCOPH would typically contact LMSD's Health Services Team (LMSD HST) to assist in identifying close contacts. While MCOPH provides the official notifications, the LMSD HST can contact staff or students in advance of those when known. Similarly, if a student self-reports a positive test, we can follow up with the MCOPH to confirm and provide assistance with identifying close contacts. All confirmed positive tests that are reported to us are posted on the LMSD COVID-19 dashboard. Keep in mind that other county health departments such as Philadelphia, Bucks, and Chester (which covers Delaware County) will only provide information to those with a need to know and will not provide it to us directly.
In summary, confirmed positive results (when shared by the designated health department) will be posted on the LMSD COVID-19 website. Quarantines are typically not shared by the health departments unless they deem that there is a risk for which the public is entitled to this information. We encourage our families to share information regarding quarantine or isolation orders with LMSD as soon as possible. You can contact your school nurse or 610-645-1829 with this information or any questions.
What do I do if my child or someone in our household tests positive for COVID-19?
You, your child, and any other family members residing in the household should quarantine in accordance with the guidance provided by the Office of Public Health. You should also contact your school nurse, who can assist you with next steps.
What if I learn that my child was with a child whose sibling or parent just tested positive for COVID-19?
Unless your child would be considered a close contact of the parent or sibling as described above, the MCOPH/OPH will not require your child to quarantine.
What Else Should I Do if I am Subject to a Quarantine or Isolation Order?
According to the MCOPH, the following steps should be followed in the event you are subject to an isolation or quarantine order:
Stay home, except to get medical care.
--Monitor your symptoms: Fever, cough, shortness of breath.
Seek prompt medical attention if you become ill or symptoms get worse.
Restrict activities outside your home, except for getting medical care.
--Do not go to work, school, or public areas. Avoid using public transportation, ride-sharing, or taxis; do not allow visitors into your home.
Separate yourself from other people and animals in your home.
--As much as possible, you should stay in a specific room and away from other people in your home.
--You should use a separate bathroom, if available.
--It is very important to stay away from people who are at higher risk of serious illness. This includes Individuals who are age 65 years and older, pregnant, or have a health problem such as a diabetes, high blood pressure, chronic disease or a weak immune system. Consider different living arrangements for these high-risk Individuals if possible.
--Avoid caring for children if possible.
--Although there have not been reports of pets or other animals becoming sick with COVID-19, it is still recommended that Individuals sick with COVID-19 limit contact with animals until more information is known about the virus. When possible, have another member of your household care for your animals.
Wear a cloth face covering if you must go around others in the home.
Cough or sneeze into the fold of your elbow. Alternatively, cover your mouth and nose with a tissue when you cough or sneeze.
Clean your hands often.
--Wash your hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds or clean your hands with an alcohol-based hand sanitizer that contains 60-95% alcohol, covering all surfaces of your hands and rubbing them together until they feel dry. Soap and water should be used preferentially if hands are visibly dirty.
--Avoid touching your eyes, nose, and mouth with unwashed hands.
Clean all "high-touch" surfaces every day.
High touch surfaces include counters, tabletops, doorknobs, bathroom fixtures, toilets, phones, keyboards, tablets, and bedside tables. Also, clean any surfaces that may have blood, stool, or body fluids on them.
Use a household cleaning spray or wipe, according to the label instructions. Labels contain instructions for safe and effective use of the cleaning product including precautions you should take when applying the product, such as wearing gloves and making sure you have good ventilation during use of the product.
Do not prepare or serve food to others.
Avoid sharing household items.