Contact Tracing Protocol

What is Contact Tracing? Contact tracing is a strategy used by health departments to prevent the spread of infectious diseases. Close contacts of an infected individual with COVID-19 are identified and contacted by the Public Health Department, and asked to quarantine for 14 days in their home while monitoring their health for the development of symptoms.


Purpose of Contact Tracing: The purpose of contact tracing is to reduce or stop the spread of infectious illnesses by notifying close contacts of their exposure, and providing them with quarantine requirements so there is a reduction in community spread.


Definition of Close Contact:  Close contacts are those Individuals who were within 6 feet of an infected individual for a period of greater than 15 minutes from 2 days before illness onset, or within 2 days of a positive COVID-19 test (in people without symptoms). Close contact can occur while caring for and/or living with an infected individual, and/or having direct contact with infectious secretions of a person diagnosed with COVID-19.


Process for Contact Tracing in Needham Public Schools

If a Needham Public Schools staff member and/or student is diagnosed with COVID-19, the following steps will be taken:

- The Needham Public Health Department will be notified of positive COVID-19 cases through the state epidemiological system.

- The Needham Public Health Department Nurse will contact the Director of School Health Services and/or the school nurse at the infected individual’s school as soon as results are known; the Director of School Health Services will notify the Superintendent, School Physician and principal.

- The affected classroom teacher(s) will provide a class roster(s) to the school nurse to share with the Public Health Nurse for the purposes of contact tracing.

- The school nurse will share the class roster(s) with the Public Health Department and/or those individuals trained to assist with contact tracing.
- Students within a class of an individual who was diagnosed with COVID-19 will be considered to be close contacts and will be required to quarantine for 14 days and be referred for a PCR/molecular COVD-19 test.

- The school nurse will provide information about close contacts to the Needham Public Health Department Nurse for follow up.

- Families and staff will be provided with instructions on Illness guidelines.

- The school nurse will collaborate with the Needham Public Health Department Nurse to release those individuals from quarantine according to public health guidelines.

- The Superintendent, School Physician, and building principal will be updated on clearance for return to school.

If there are multiple cases in the school or district, the following steps will be taken:

1)    If there is more than one confirmed COVID-19 case in the school at one time, the school nurse and/or Director of Health Services will communicate with the Needham Public Health Department and will notify the building principal, the School Physician and Superintendent.

2)    If there is suspected in-school transmission beyond one cohort or a small number of cohorts, next steps will be determined which could include: closing part of the school or the entire school for a short period of time for extensive cleaning, or closing the school partially or fully for the duration of a 14- day quarantine.

3)    If there are multiple cases in multiple schools, district leaders and the Superintendent will consult with the Needham Public Health Department and the School Physician for next steps. These steps could include: shutting down the district for a short time (i.e. 1-3 days) for extensive cleaning or shutting down the district for the longer duration of a 14-day quarantine. 

4)    If the decision is made to close a school or schools for a number of days, the district will send clear information to families and staff that will include:

a.   Informing them it is possible that COVID-19 is being transmitted in the school and/or district;

b.   Noting there may be more potential cases that are not yet symptomatic;

c.    Recommending students/staff monitor their health and not have contact with others;

d.   Reminding families of the importance of not having contact with higher-risk individuals;

e.   Reminding families/staff of symptoms to monitor for and to call their healthcare provider for evaluation/testing if experiencing symptoms of COVID-19.

5)    Upon return to school:

a.     Reinforce hand hygiene, need for physical distancing, face mask requirements;

b.     Ensure adequate supplies are available; i.e., PPE, face masks, soap, hand sanitizer, cleaning products.



Department of Elementary and Secondary Education (Revised, August 20,2020) Protocols for responding to COVID-19 scenarios in the school, on the bus, or in community settings



October, 2020

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