Houston ISD adjusts contact tracing practices and will review mask mandate in ‘near future’ if coronavirus decline continues

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With COVID-19 cases trending downward in Houston, Houston ISD officials announced changes to district contact tracing protocols in a Feb. 9 news release.

HISD conducts contact tracing whenever an individual is confirmed positive for COVID-19, a process led by each school’s nurse or principal. The nurse identifies close contacts as defined by the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, which includes people who were within 6 feet of the confirmed case for a total of 15 minutes or more during a 24-hour period that starts from two days prior to the test being administered. Parents of close contacts are then notified.

Previously, those exposed had to quarantine for at least five days from the last day of exposure to the confirmed case with stricter rules for those who test positive or show symptoms.

Going forward, anyone in a classroom or involved in an activity or program where a case has been confirmed or suspected will always be notified. Those people will then be asked to monitor for symptoms and perform tests as appropriate, depending on the district. In its back-to-school plan, HISD strongly recommends immediate testing for anyone who feels ill, and those who test positive should self-isolate for at least five days from the onset of symptoms.

“The threat of COVID-19 in our communities is still elevated, but we are seeing county-wide data trending in the right direction, including a steady decrease in new reported cases, which is consistent with observed trends. in other locations,” the district said. in a report.

Parents will continue to receive notifications whenever a child is in a class with someone who is COVID-19 positive. As of Feb. 9, the district’s mask mandate will also remain in place, though officials have said it may be revisited in the “near future” if the current decline in COVID-19 cases continues and no new variant emerges. HISD will also continue its testing offerings and partner with local health departments to offer vaccines.

HISD has a total of 1,228 active cases as of Feb. 9, according to the district’s COVID-19 dashboard, including 1,057 student cases and 171 staff cases. A total of 66 new cases were confirmed on Feb. 9, down from January figures, when cases hovered around 200 to 400 a day for most of the month and exceeded 500 daily new cases on three occasions.

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