Preschool through Grade 12

ISB Campus COVID-19 Safety and Operations 2023-2024

We are thrilled to welcome back our students for the 2023-2024 school year! For the past three years, ISB has prioritized educational continuity while taking all necessary measures to provide a safe and healthy environment. 

As COVID evolves, our commitments to uninterrupted learning and to the health and safety of our community stand firm. In this spirit, our school will continue to update safety measures based on data and guidance from a range of authorities, including the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), Massachusetts Department of Elementary and Secondary Education (DESE), and Cambridge Public Health Department (CPHD). As always, we will notify you of any protocol changes as they arise.

For questions about COVID protocols, please contact the Chief Financial Officer/COVID Response Officer: Isabelle Praud
For health-related questions, please contact the ISB Nurse (TPS to Grade 12): Maeve Glynn Hermida

Health and Safety Protocols

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Will masks be required at school?  

As of Thursday, August 31st, 2023, the School is Mask Optional for All Grades. This means that masks are not required inside school premises, except in narrow circumstances. 

Importantly, anyone who wishes to continue wearing a mask for whatever reason and for whatever portion of the school day remains welcome to do so, respecting individual decisions. 

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What does "Mask Optional" mean in practice?

There will be no masks required: 

  • indoors for anyone, students or faculty and staff, regardless of vaccination status 
  • on school buses
  • for clubs and sports

Will there be exceptions?
For now, masks will still be required in the following scenarios/locations:

  • in school health offices, per DESE protocol
  • for COVID-19-positive individuals who return to school during Days 6-10 from the date of positive test or onset of symptoms (except when drinking, eating, or outdoors)
  • if a specific class, event, or community situation warrants it
  • for certain visitors allowed inside school premises
  • on public transportation, if used for field trips

As such, we recommend you continue to send your student to school with a couple well fitted masks in their backpack.

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What other COVID-19 mitigation measures will remain in place?
We will keep a range of other mitigation measures in effect, including:

  • Open windows for increased ventilation
  • Testing of symptomatic individuals while at school
  • Enhanced focus on hand hygiene
  • Cleaning and disinfection

What are the symptoms of COVID-19?

  • Fever (100.0° Fahrenheit or higher), chills, or shaking chills
  • Cough (not due to other known cause, such as chronic cough)
  • Difficulty breathing or shortness of breath
  • Fatigue (when in combination with other symptoms)
  • Muscle aches or body aches
  • Headache (when in combination with other symptoms)
  • New loss of taste or smell
  • Sore throat (when in combination with other symptoms)
  • Nasal congestion or runny nose (not due to other known causes, such as allergies) 
  • Nausea, vomiting, or diarrhea (when in combination with other symptoms)

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What should one do if experiencing symptoms of COVID-19?

  • The single most important thing to do if experiencing any of the listed COVID-19 symptoms, even if they are mild, is to stay at home and get a test for COVID-19 prior to returning to school. Please call the school nurse to discuss symptoms. 
  • If a student or staff member has COVID-19-like symptoms, they may return to school after they have tested negative for COVID-19 (Antigen at-home tests are acceptable), have an improvement in symptoms, and have been fever-free for at least 24 hours without the use of fever-reducing medications. If a provider makes an alternative diagnosis for COVID-19-like symptoms, the individual may return to school based on the recommendations for that alternative diagnosis. 

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How do I provide consent for testing of my student?

ISB Parent Portal > Quick Links > Your Household Information
On the next page, click on "School Policies" near the upper right corner of the page.

 You will see the link for the "Student Consent Form for COVID-19 Testing." Please complete the form.

Contact Isabelle Praud if you have any questions about the testing program or the consent form.

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What happens with individuals who develop symptoms at school?

  • When COVID-like symptoms become apparent at school, individuals will be placed in the health offices for triage and reassessment during the day until the student is picked up. They will be asked to put on a school-provided surgical mask for extra safety.  
  • Symptomatic children may return to the school program if they are immediately tested onsite (using BinaxNOW or iHealth rapid tests) and the test result is negative. Best practice would also include wearing a mask, if possible until symptoms have fully resolved. The same protocol applies to Faculty & Staff who experience symptoms while at school. As a reminder, individuals who feel sick should stay home.

Testing of symptomatic individuals at school 

  • The School will use the rapid test Abbott BinaxNOW or iHealth (shallow nasal swab) for use on symptomatic students and staff if they experience the onset of symptoms at school. Results are available approximately 15 minutes after completion of the test. 
  • The rapid test cannot be used for broad-scale asymptomatic testing in school, according to DESE. Results are presumptive, not diagnostic; a PCR test may be used to definitively confirm whether the individual does or does not have COVID-19. 
  • The Nurse will call parents to authorize the administration of the antigen test unless consent has already been given.
  • Any symptomatic individual who tests positive on the antigen test will be treated as a positive COVID-19 case and managed accordingly.

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What happens if a student/staff tests positive for COVID-19? 

Even as we remain vigilant, and Massachusetts infection rates remain low, the risk of an eventual case of COVID-19 in the ISB community is possible.

  • Individuals who test positive must isolate for at least 5 days. If they are asymptomatic or symptoms are resolving, and they have been fever-free for 24 hours, they may return to school after Day 5, provided:

    • The individual wears a mask through Day 10 if able to do so. 

  • If unable to mask, the individual must have a negative test on Day 5 or later, in order to return to school prior to Day 11.

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How will the school communicate with parents about positive cases in the class?

Parents will receive a generic email informing them about any identified positive cases in the class of their student. The privacy of the individual who tested positive will be respected. The Dashboard of the number of positive cases in the ISB community will be discontinued unless cases rise to a number that would necessitate high level tracking. 

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  • Individuals will be identified as close contacts of a COVID-19 positive person if they were within 6 feet of them while indoors, for at least 15 minutes, while they were symptomatic, or within the 48 hours prior to symptom onset. Individuals will also be identified as close contacts if, while indoors, they spent at least 15 minutes within 6 feet of someone who tested positive for COVID-19 in the 48 hours before the test was taken, or anytime in the 10 days after the test.

  • According to CDC guidelines, individuals are less likely to be exposed to COVID-19 during outdoor activities, even without the use of masks. As a result, the period of time that a student or staff is outside does not count. The identification of a close contact is ONLY attributable to the time spent indoors.

  • If a student/staff member is a close contact: Children who are identified as close contacts, regardless of where the exposure occurred and their vaccination status, do not need to quarantine and may continue to attend school as long as they remain asymptomatic. Parents or guardians are expected to monitor their children for symptoms for 10 days. Those who can mask should do so until Day 10 after the last day of exposure. A test is recommended on Days 2 and 5. If they experience symptoms, please keep them home and have them tested, in accordance with State guidelines.

  • As per CDC contact tracing guidelines, contacts of close contacts (for instance, the siblings of close contacts) are not considered at high risk of transmission and do not need to self-quarantine unless they develop symptoms or an individual identified as a close contact develops COVID-19.

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If I, as a parent, am awaiting COVID test results, should I still send my children to school?

If you are awaiting the COVID test result due to suspected exposure (other than surveillance testing), please send your children to school with a mask on. If they exhibit COVID-19 symptoms, even if light, please test them with a rapid Antigen test before sending them to school.

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No. At this point, the School does not intend on offering routine pooled or Test & Stay programs as it did previously. 

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Page updated Thursday, September 14th, 2023