Covid-19: Here’s the Minnesota Public School Notification Plan
It's a question I've heard over and over again. Here's a word-for-word version of call we received on Friday...
My daughter goes to Kellogg and I wanna know if the school will notify me if someone else in the school tests positive for the Coronavirus. I know they can't name students, and I don't want that, I just want to know if they'll tell us if a teacher or a kid gets it.
It took a bit of checking and first I want to say how impressive every step along the way was. From the Rochester Public Schools to Olmsted County, to the Minnesota Department of Education, and finally the Minnesota Department of Health.
Susan Klammer, MDH School Liaison, COVID-19 Response at the Minnesota Department of Health answered my questions, and the basic answer is yes, you'll be notified if there's a chance your child came into contact with a person that's Covid-19 positive. But lets start at the beginning.
What’s the normal MN Public Schools infectious disease notification procedure?
There are 77 specific reportable diseases, such as, anthrax, cholera, hepatitis (all viral types), HIV, influenza (in some, but not all cases), measles, meningitis, mumps, rabies, tetanus and quite a few others. (Yes, COVID-19 is a reportable disease.)
Who reports? A lot of positions are on the must-report list, but for this conversation, childcare providers and school health staff officials are required to report diseases to the Minnesota Health Department (MDH). See all the reporting info here.
OK, so that's who reports, now, what happens when a report is made?
- Exclusion of infected children and/or staff.
- Notification to parents/guardians, childcare providers, school health staff, and health care providers of the problem.
- Appropriate preventive measures.
- Interviews of parents/guardians and staff regarding onset date and type of symptoms. A data privacy statement will be included during each interview. Illness information about a specific child will only be released with permission from the parent or guardian.
- Collection of specimens, if necessary (use of consent forms to share information).
- Administration of antibiotics, vaccine, or immune globulin.
- Review of cleaning, sanitizing, disinfecting, and handwashing procedures.
Review of food preparation or storage procedures.
- See WAY more on this here.
JAMES RABE - Will Covid-19's reporting plan look much the same?
SUSAN KLAMMER - "Schools will be reporting to us via an established COVID-specific inbox to allow our schools team to respond directly, but otherwise the general process for notification is likely to be very similar – schools will report to MDH (or MDH will contact them if we are notified of a positive case in their setting and haven’t already been in contact with the school) and will work with them to identify close contacts, tailor notification letters to affected parties and the general school community (as applicable), and inform next steps to mitigate further transmission of disease."
JR - I know this is covered above, but I'd like to ask again more directly. Are there details about who will be notified in a school setting if a child or staff tests positive? Like, will it be floor by floor, just the classroom, etc...
SK - "Notifications are determined on a case by case basis, but in general all close contacts of a case will be notified so they can take appropriate action to stay home and consider testing during the viral incubation period. Additional notifications of classrooms, floors, etc will be based on an assessment of the exposure and the cases’ interactions in the school environment while infectious."
Since Covid-19 knowledge changes as we go on, this could modified.
Most parents surveyed want their kids back in school, but only if it can be done safely. Please comment below with how you think that can best be achieved.
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