HARTFORD, Conn. (WTNH) — Education and public health leaders in Connecticut released updated COVID-19 guidance for the 2022-23 school year on Tuesday.
Officials with the Connecticut Departments of Public Health and Education, and the Office of Early Childhood said the Launching into Healthy Learning initiative is designed to get children back to school and child care centers at the scheduled start of the school year, to keep them there in person as much as possible throughout the year, and to keep them healthy and learning all year long.
The guidance includes free self-test kits at all public schools, child care programs, and youth camps in the state, mobile vaccination clinics for the state’s Alliance School Districts, and a new testing and mask strategy.
The state has purchased 2.5 million test kits, for a total of 5 million individual tests, to distribute to school districts and early childhood programs. The tests are free of charge and available to students, staff, and key service providers, including bus drivers.
School districts, licensed child care centers, and youth camps will receive more information in the coming days directly from the State Department of Education and Office of Early Childhood.
State leaders said COVID-19 mobile vaccination clinics will be set up for all 36 Alliance School Districts and open to school, child care, and youth cam staff, students, and families in these communities.
The schedule for when vans will be at schools is still being determined, according to Dept. Public Health Commissioner Manisha Juthani.
State leaders said the optional Test-Mask-Go strategy is designed to increase the number of days of in-person learning and care available to children to enhance learning and the social, emotional, and physical well-being of students, staff, and their families.
Previously, any student with symptoms associated with the coronavirus, regardless of severity, Education Commissioner Charlene Russell-Tucker said.
Schools and child care programs that utilize a Test-Mask-Go strategy can give children and staff with mild symptoms, like infrequent cough, congestion, runny nose, and sore throat, the option to continue participating in-person as long as they:
- Are fever-free (< 100°F) and feel well enough to participate,
- Do not live with anyone who has had COVID-19 in the past two weeks,
- Can wear a mask consistently and correctly (if facility operators require them to do so),
- Test negative for COVID-19 before reporting in-person on every day they have symptoms, as well as one final test on the morning their symptoms have completely resolved.
People who have any respiratory disease symptoms should not use the Test-Mask-Go strategy if they:
- Have a fever (≥ 100°F) or feel feverish (they should not report in person until their fever has resolved for at least 24 hours without the use of medication)
- Live with a person who recently tested positive for COVID-19 (within the past two weeks)
State guidance states these individuals should stay home until their symptoms resolve and test for COVID-19. Anyone testing positive for COVID-19 should complete isolation according to the CDC Q/I Calculator. School, child care, or youth camp administrators or health staff who have questions regarding Test-Mask-Go can contact DPH.EPI@ct.gov.