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 per Public Health Guidelines 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 or within 3 feet in a classroom for a cumulative total of 15 minutes or more over a 24-hour period starting from 2 days before illness onset (or for asymptomatic people, 2 days before the test date) - while indoors.


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.

- 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 NPS Director of Health Services will determine if students in a classroom where there is a positive individual should be excluded. If, after consulting with school and classroom staff, school nurses, and public health, the Director of Health Services is unable to identify which students are close contacts, a portion of or the entire class will be considered close contacts and will be excluded from school. Those students can return to school on day 11 after exposure providing that they have been symptom free and the parent/guardian actively monitors their student for symptoms for the full 14 days. Alternatively, if the student takes a PCR test on the 5th day of exposure and the test is negative, the student can return on day 8 as long as they have no symptoms and are actively monitored by parents/guardians for the full 14 days. If a student has experienced any symptoms at any time during the quarantine period, even if they have a negative COVID-19 test, or the parent/guardian is unable to conduct active monitoring, the student will observe the full 14-day quarantine period.

- 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, Department of elementary and Secondary Education (DESE), Massachusetts Department of Public Health (DPH) Epidemiologist, 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: utilizing the DPH/DESE Mobile Testing Unit to PCR test each individual in the cohort(s) who were not identified as close contacts, 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 up to 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 13, 2021) DESE-DPH Protocols for responding to COVID-19 scenarios- SY 2021-22_8-13 vF



revised March 2021 and August 2021

Website by SchoolMessenger Presence. © 2024 SchoolMessenger Corporation. All rights reserved.