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Health and Safety Update, March 22, 2022
Health and Safety Update, March 22, 2022

Dear LMSD Families,

If you have been following the numbers shared on our District's COVID-19 Dashboard, you have seen an increase in the number of cases in LMSD since masks became optional in our buildings on Feb. 28, 2022, and on our buses on March 18, 2022. This increase is not surprising in light of the change in masking requirements, an increase in socializing and some people's waning immunity. At the same time, the CDC and Montgomery County Office of Public Health (MCOPH) are using a new model to determine community risk levels. This considers not only case counts, but also inpatient beds occupied by COVID-19 patients and new hospital admissions. Montgomery County remains in the "low" risk category.

I wanted to share some additional information about our ongoing efforts to protect the health and safety of our students, staff and families, in alignment with the current guidance.

In LMSD, parents and guardians continue to report cases to our COVID-19 Healthline. These cases are updated on the dashboard. Some cases indicate outbreaks within certain classrooms, teams, clubs or other core groups of students. MCOPH defines an outbreak as three or more linked cases in a core group over a 14-day period. Although the MCOPH definition refers to school-based transmission, determining where an exposure occurred can be challenging. Students have contact in after-school programs, at sports and during social events. If the source of the exposure is not clear, LMSD errs on the side of caution and considers the exposure school-based.

When there is an outbreak, the nurses notify MCOPH and the families of all members of the impacted core group, who are all considered close contacts. According to the MCOPH:

  • nFully vaccinated close contacts who are asymptomatic may continue to attend school. Masks are recommended, but are not required. Testing is recommended on Day Five after exposure and is offered at school.
    • While many districts have discontinued school-based COVID-19 testing, LMSD continues to test hundreds of students weekly at school or after school during dedicated hours.
  • Families of unvaccinated or partially vaccinated students are notified by one of the School Nurses and given guidance regarding quarantine, testing and requirements of the "Mask-to-Stay" (MTS) program.
  • All parents/guardians are urged to screen their children daily for symptoms of illness. Any child with symptoms must be kept home and parents/guardians should report the illness to the school nurse or COVID Healthline at 610-645-1973.
  • Close contacts who exhibit symptoms of illness are considered positive and are required to isolate at home for five days. They may return to school on Day Six, with the requirement that they wear a mask consistently and correctly through Day 10.
  • Rapid antigen testing is available to close contacts in school on set days after exposure.
    • Please keep in mind that testing is not as sensitive to the Omicron variant. There have been a significant number of false negatives in both rapid antigen and PCR tests early in the infection period.

In addition to following this MCOPH guidance, LMSD continues to maintain distancing to the extent possible in classrooms and during lunches. The ventilation measures, such as the MERV 13 filters, that were implemented at the beginning of the pandemic are also being maintained.

The District continues to encourage all eligible members of our school community to get vaccinated and boosted. COVID-19 vaccines are effective at protecting individuals from getting sick and being hospitalized. Free vaccines are available at sites across Montgomery County from MCOPH, and information on additional vaccine providers can be found here.

I know our students are looking forward to enjoying the spring weather and the return of many of the activities that had to be put on hold over the course of the past two years. As everyone in the community works steadfastly to follow the guidance, we are hopeful that – despite some cases of COVID-19 – we will be able end the school year in a positive way.

Sincerely,

Khalid N. Mumin, Ed.D.
Superintendent of Schools

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