Students and staff return to Pittsfield schools on Monday. Here is what awaits them. | Central Berkshires

PITTSFIELD – Life and learning at Pittsfield public schools will resume in person as scheduled on Monday after a holiday break that was dominated by news of the growing spread of the omicron variant of the coronavirus.

As class life continues as it did before the holidays, the district is implementing new state guidelines for the isolation and quarantine of Pittsfield coronavirus safety policies and is offering test kits at staff to use to check for virus before returning to work.

“[The Massachusetts Department of Elementary and Secondary Education] made no change to their expectations for in-person learning, ”said Eric Lamoureaux, district emergency and security coordinator, in an email Wednesday evening. “School will resume in person as scheduled on Monday.”

The neighborhood has updated its isolation requirements for students or staff with a positive coronavirus result and close contact to match new state guidelines released Thursday afternoon that align with current thinking from the Center of Disease Control and Prevention.

Below new state protocols if a person tests positive for the coronavirus, they must self-isolate for five days after testing positive. On the sixth day, a student or staff member may only return to school if they have no symptoms and continue to wear a mask for the next five days.

The Pittsfield School District said schools will “make lunchtime arrangements” for people who have returned to school and complete the five-day masking period.

Berkshire students do not opt ​​for bulk tests.  Is it a problem?  May be.

The low turnout in the Berkshire County Schools’ pooled testing means the program, long touted by the state, still cannot quite serve as a safety net for the tests that the school, district and state officials hoped.

For close contact with COVID-positive students or staff, district rules have been changed slightly to accommodate vaccination status. Fully vaccinated people without symptoms need only watch for symptoms for 10 days while continuing to attend school normally.

Unimmunized students and staff can choose to take the district test-and-stay program – which is a daily test for five days after contact – for school contacts only. A negative result each day allows students and staff to stay in school during the testing period.

Members of the school community can register for the test and stay program by visiting the district website and completing an online consent form.

If school members choose not to take the test-and-stay program, they must quarantine themselves outside of the school for five days. After the five-day test and stay or out of school quarantine, students and staff are allowed to return to school as long as they mask themselves for an additional five days.

The American Federation of Pittsfield School Employees posted an email from the general manager to the union on Facebook on Facebook Wednesday afternoon, informing the union president that the district would provide free home coronavirus test kits to all staff in the area on Friday. district.

“We will be giving these kits to all staff on Friday morning so they can test on Sunday night before heading back to school,” Curtis wrote in the email. “This is OPTIONAL of course. “

Curtis confirmed that the district would be giving tests to district employees in an email to The Eagle on Thursday.

About 70 staff members have reported a case of coronavirus since the start of this school year. Of the staff cases this year, around 20 have been reported in the past two weeks.

The majority of coronavirus cases reported in the school community this year are from students. The district enrolled 4,747 in-person students this year, and about 1 in 10 students reported a case of coronavirus in the first semester.

Morningside students are back after a COVID outbreak.  Here's what would happen if cases increased again

Only a handful of students at Morningside Community School are out of class after the Thanksgiving break. The majority of the school’s coronavirus cases have recovered after an outbreak late last month.

Cases have been particularly high in district elementary schools where, until recently, the majority of the student body was not eligible for coronavirus vaccines. Elementary school students make up about 50 percent of the in-person student body, but accounted for about 60 percent of all cases in the district.

This does not mean that the situation in all primary schools is the same. At Capeless Elementary School, 14 students, or about 8.8% of the student body, reported a case of coronavirus. At Morningside Elementary School, 61 students, or about 18% of the student body, reported a case.

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