The following is an update from Howard County Public Schools on January 9, 2022:
Clarification regarding HCPSS contact tracing efforts, January 9, 2022
In previous communications, the HCPSS has provided information regarding contact tracing and changes to how it will be handled as we see an increase in the number of positive cases in schools. The message inadvertently implied that the HCPSS was no longer conducting contact tracing following positive cases in our buildings. This has led to some questions and concerns and this post provides further clarification and details regarding the HCPSS response to COVID cases, and information previously posted online has been updated.
The recent increase in mid-December forced the HCPSS to adjust its contact tracing process to ensure that we are following legal requirements to provide accurate and timely data to the health department while supporting our students and staff including the test is positive.
The HCPSS will continue current processes for students who test positive by sending names and addresses to the Howard County Health Department, making personal contact with families of students with COVID, and collecting information on cohorts. where there are several cases of positive students. As long as the number of cases remains extremely high, the efforts of the HCPSS will prioritize communication and education of families whose children test positive. The HCPSS will continue to identify cohorts and share this information with the HCHD. School principals will continue to prioritize communication and education for families whose children test positive and will notify the school community when there is a positive case in the building.
Unfortunately, the way we started with contact tracing at the start of the school year is not sustainable. We hoped that outsourcing some of this work to an outside contractor would help improve the quality and timeliness of data shared with the health service, however, the contractor was unable to respond to this need. The HCPSS central office and other school staff are helping our health service staff track the current number of positive cases and we will continue to leverage this support to keep our processes going. Additionally, the HCPSS is currently developing a technology solution that can interface with our student records system and help streamline data collection and sharing to improve data quality for the HCPSS and the HCHD. Our goal is that once the cases of COVID have subsided and with this new technological solution, we can resume the level of contact tracing that occurred earlier in the school year.
The HCPSS is grateful to our families and staff for their diligence with COVID testing and communicating positive results to our schools. We remind parents / guardians to perform daily health checks with their child every day and to refrain from sending them to school if they have symptoms associated with COVID-19 or any other communicable disease. . Staff should follow the same guidelines. Please note that student absences due to illness are considered excused absences.