In one instance, 20 Cole students had to quarantine because of close contact on a school bus
As of Thursday, East Greenwich public schools have had a total of two staff members and eight students who have tested positive for COVID-19 since the start of the school year. The schools involved have been Eldredge, Hanaford, Cole and EGHS.
In several of the cases, quarantines were limited to just a couple of students, but around 20 Cole students had to quarantine after a student who rode one of the buses tested positive. In that case, per state rules, everyone who sat in the two rows in front and behind the positive student and students in the five rows on the opposite side had to quarantine.
“We are talking with the Department of Health, saying that the [bus] rationale doesn’t make sense – row 5 on the other aisle is more than 6 feet away,” said Supt. Alexis Meyer in an interview Thursday. East Greenwich requires a 7-day quarantine with a test on day 5 or later to be able to return to school on day 8, she said. Without a test, the person must stay out for 10 days.
Meyer said she was hoping for modified quarantine guidelines for bus riders. “They said they are looking at it, to be able to determine where the 6-feet parameters are,” she said, referring to state health and education officials.
Other guidelines around quarantining have changed – loosened – this school year.
For instance, if an elementary-age student tests positive, as long as everyone within 6 feet in the classroom was wearing a mask, there is no need for those students to quarantine. Meyer said that change came from the Department of Health based on data for last year’s school-based virus cases. She said officials said they didn’t have similar data on transmission on buses, which is why more quarantining is necessary for close bus contacts than for close classroom contacts.
For people who are vaccinated, no quarantine is necessary. Those who have had COVID within the last 90 days also are exempt from quarantine.
Meyer spoke of the benefits of vaccination.
The high school has had two students test positive so far. In the first incident, two additional students were forced to quarantine.
“When we went through the close contact list [for the first case], the majority of the kids did not have to quarantine because they were fully vaccinated,” Meyer said.
The second case was reported just Thursday (9/30) so it was not yet known Thursday midday how many students might have to quarantine.
The bottom line for Meyer: “Vaccines keep kids in school.”