Update to COVID Protocols

Posted on: January 12, 2022

Salem Public Schools Community,
We wanted to update you on some changes to our COVID protocols based on what we have learned about the Omicron variant, and the current surge the state is experiencing. As promised, we continue to review case counts and consult with state and local health officials to maintain in-person schooling while ensuring the safety and well-being of students and staff. We are prioritizing our resources within the current surge and building a plan to prepare for the long-term management of the virus.  In doing so, we wanted you to be aware of some shifts to our guidance that will go into effect beginning tomorrow.

  • Testing Consent: If unvaccinated students do not have consent when they are identified as a close contact, they will be required to quarantine for 5 days. If you have not already enrolled your student in the district’s testing program, new consent forms will be sent home in the next week. You can also sign up for consent here:  
  • Distancing and Masks: With the increased transmissibility of the variant, we are encouraging schools to space students at least three feet apart whenever possible. We are also purchasing KN95 masks for student use.  These should be arriving in the next two weeks.  
  • Notifications and Contact Tracing: The current surge in COVID cases requires that we focus on classrooms where we suspect spread may be occurring.

    • First two positive cases in a classroom: SPS will notify families after each of the first two cases of COVID-19 in a homeroom (PreK-8). All families will be asked to monitor for symptoms, but no individual close contacts will be identified. 
    • Three or more cases in a classroom: If there is a third individual that is positive within the same class within the same week, nurses and teachers will identify close contacts for all cases.

  • Individuals that have recovered from COVID-19 in the past 90 days will be exempt from quarantining.  
    • For unvaccinated close contacts that do not have consent to participate in testing, families will be called and will be required to pick up their student from school. All other families will be notified via Parent Square.
    • We are doing our best to avoid the disruption of closing classrooms but recognize that this may be necessary should safety become a concern. We will evaluate each situation on a case-by-case basis.
    • At the high school level, nurses will continue to work with individuals that are identified as close contacts and offer a rapid test for vaccinated individuals with consent and test to stay to unvaccinated individuals with consent on a case by case basis. Unvaccinated close contacts that do not have consent to test will be required to quarantine for five days.
  • REMINDER – Test to Return: If individuals are positive, they must isolate for at least five days. Please see our FAQ for further details. 
  • Rapid Test Sites for SPS Students & Staff: SPS is working with our teams to establish places and times when families can come to get students rapid tests if they are (1) symptomatic, (2) at home close contacts, or (3) testing to return to school. We hope that this will help address testing shortages and we will be in touch with more information soon.

Please know that we will continue to communicate with you and keep you informed if anything changes in the coming days and weeks.  Thank you for your continued support, partnership and understanding.  Please stay safe, warm, and healthy.  

Stephen K. Zrike Jr.