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Infectious Disease
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COVID-19

Prepare your family for the school year

COVID ECHO

If you are interested in help navigating back to school challenges, register for the Caregiver COVID Schooling ECHOs. Upcoming sessions will be hosted on:

  • Nov 18, 2020 10:30 AM

Sessions will be recorded and materials from past ECHOs are available for those who cannot attend.

Whether by homeschooling, remote learning or in a classroom with other students, there are many ways to help keep kids safe from infection with COVID-19 while learning.

Consider how you will plan for and discuss expectations, challenges, disappoints, and new opportunities. 

Students may have questions about:

Simple steps to reduce your child's risks


Resources for families


Doctor's notes for returning to school after symptoms

 

Many parents have questions about what to do if their child is sick or has been exposed to someone who has tested positive for COVID-19.

Do you know what to do when your child has been sent home with symtoms of COVID-19 or when they can return to school? You can find out more about what to do if your child in sick or sent home from school in our Q&A for parents.

If your child is sent home from school, please print a Return to school after symtoms form for your child's doctor to fill out so you can submit the doctor's note when your child returns to school.

You can learn more about students returning to school from isolation or quarantine in the Alaska Smart Start 2020 plan.

Returning from interstate travel

Recent travel out of state? Please know that if your child has recently returned from out of state travel, they must take a COVID-19 PCR (molecular-based not antigen) within 72 hours of departure, or on arrival, and self-quarantine until the negative results can be uploaded into the Travel Portal. Travelers must also observe strict social distancing for 5 days after arrival, even if test results are negative. This means you cannot enter a school building during this time. Children 10 and under are not required to be tested; if they choose not to test they would follow the same requirements of the parent or guardian they traveled with. Alaska residents may choose to quarantine for 14 days in lieu of testing; if children do not test. Learn about the new rules at Health Order 6: Interstate and International Travel:

  • For returning travelers, the first COVID-19 test should be taken 72 hours prior to departure or at the airport for Alaska residents.

  • The second test is optional, but should be taken 5-14 days after arrival.

  • Do not send a child to school until these requirements are met.Thank you for helping to keep others safe, and keep schools open.

Well child visits and vaccinations

During the COVID-19 pandemic, Alaskans have kept our children close to home to keep them safe, and as a result pediatric visits and vaccinations may have been missed. Well child visits are critical to a child's health and well-being and so are routine vaccinations. Although there is no vaccine yet for COVID-19 there are vaccines available to prevent other serious illnesses, like measles, mumps and whooping cough. Check your child’s records and schedule an appointment with your health care provider today.

Pods help keep your social bubble small

A cohort or pod is another name for a small social bubble, which health experts have advised as a mechanism to keep interactions with others low since the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic.  

The idea is that when you do have contact with others, it’s with a small and consistent group of people, all of whom are also being careful to limit interactions with others. 

 

Cohorts limit the number of people each person is exposed to and which can decrease how many people get sick or need to be quarantined in the event of being exposed to an infected person.

Circle of Support

Families with children should create a plan for what will happen if the caregiver or caregivers in the family become ill with COVID-19. A COVID-19 Family Plan should establish a Circle of Support which includes family members, friends, and other trusted people who can help care for children:

Alaska Smart Start 2020

Alaska Smart Start 2020 is built upon the guidance and recommendations of health officials and collaborative conversations with education stakeholders; it is aligned to the reopening guidelines that have been provided by our state and federal leaders; and it is designed to help districts prioritize the health and safety of students and teachers as they deliver instruction for the 2020-2021 school year.

Alaska Smart Start 2020 logo

For questions about the Alaska Smart Start 2020 plan, please contact aksmartstart2020@alaska.gov.

 Q&A for parents

What are the infection and transmission rates in my community?

For the most current infection rates in your community, see the DHSS dashboard. You may want to look at both the heat map for cases in your region, under alert levels, and at the total cases in your community listed in the spreadsheet at the bottom of the page. Communities under 1000 people are not listed individually for privacy reasons. 

How is my child’s school ensuring social distancing in the classroom?

Smaller class sizes, staggered schedules, cohorting, and hybrid systems combining in-class instruction with virtual learning are all strategies to allow students to keep distance from one another. To learn about what measures are being taken in your school district, review your district’s Alaska Smart Start 2020 restart plan. Still have questions? Contact your local school.

What measures are being taken to clean and disinfect the classrooms?

Classrooms and high-touch surfaces like door handles, desks, and playground equipment should be disinfected regularly. Disinfectant products should not be used while children are present, and ventilation is important to keep fumes away from children. DHSS and DEED are providing detailed guidance and support on health and safety protocols for schools. As a local control state, school districts have the authority through their locally-elected school boards to make decisions to be responsive to their communities.

To learn about what measures are being taken in your school district, review your district’s Alaska Smart Start 2020 restart plan. Still have questions? Contact your local school

What is the school’s policy when a student or staff member becomes ill?

Any student or staff member who is ill must stay home from school. Any student or staff member who becomes ill at school must be sent home immediately. Any student or staff member who has one or more of the following new symptoms must go home:

  • Fever or chills

  • Cough

  • Shortness of breath or difficulty breathing

  • Tiredness or fatigue

  • Muscle or body aches

  • Headache

  • New loss of taste or smell

  • Sore throat

  • Congestion or runny nose

  • Nausea or vomiting

  • Diarrhea

When can my child end quarantine or isolation?

 

My child was sent home but now feels better - can they go back to school?

The student or staff member should be tested for COVID-19 and, if necessary, be evaluated by their health care provider.

When your child has been sent home from school or stayed home due to having any symptoms of illness, print the Return to School After Symptoms form for your child's doctor to fill out and submit the doctor's note when your child returns to school.

Students and staff may not return to school until they have met one of the following criteria:

  • If they test positive, they must stay home for 10 days since their first symptom or their positive test, whichever is earlier. Once it has been 10 days, they may return to school once they have not had a fever in 24 hours without the use of fever reducing medicine, as long as their other symptoms are improving.

  • If they test negative, they may return to school when they have not had a fever in 24 hours without the use of fever reducing medicine and their other symptoms are improving.

  • If they do not get a test, they must stay home for 10 days. They may return to school when it has been 10 days and they have not had a fever in 24 hours without the use of fever reducing medicine and their other symptoms are improving.

  • If their health care providers determines there is an alternative diagnosis to COVID-19 causing their symptoms, they may be allowed back to school before 10 days and without a negative test as long as the following criteria are met:

    • Their symptoms have improved and they have not had a fever in 24 hours without the use of fever reducing medicine, AND

    • They have a note from their health care provider saying it is safe for them to come back to school.

Who will notify me if my child was exposed to COVID-19 while at school?

When a school finds out that someone within the school is positive for COVID-19, they will notify others who have had close contact with that person. The identity of the individual who is positive for COVID-19 will be kept private. 

Can I refuse to have my child tested for COVID-19? 

Yes. While having your child tested both helps you and your family have certainty, and is typically the shortest path to getting your child back to school as soon as possible, having your child tested is always your decision. Children who have symptoms associated with COVID-19 may not attend school for ten days since the symptoms began, even if the symptoms resolve, and may not return to school until the ten days have passed, their symptoms have improved, and they have not had a fever without the use of fever reducing medications in at least 24 hours. The exceptions to this are if your child has a negative COVID-19 test or has a doctor's note clarifying that the symptoms are from something else, for example a chronic condition. 

My child tested positive – who will my child’s identity be disclosed to? 

The provider who performed the test, you as their parent, and the DHSS Division of Public Health will know about the positive test. Public health can take several days to get this information so you will likely know much faster. You as their parent will then communicate this information to the school nurse, or if your district does not have a school nurse, to the school's contact person. The school nurse or contact person will then arrange to inform close contacts without disclosing your child's identity.

It is important that you communicate this information to the school nurse or designated contact person as soon as possible so that close contacts can be informed. Contacts, such as other students in the class, will not be told who the person who tested positive was and everyone who had close contact will need to quarantine for 14 days. For example, another student might be told that someone who has been found to have COVID-19 was in their classroom for at least 15 minutes, and so everyone in their classroom must quarantine for 14 days. Your child's name and personal information will be kept private. 

CDC resources