Reopening Communications and School Closure Guide

Reopening Communications and
School Closure Guide

Student getting tempeture taken

COVID-19 Isolation, Quarantine and Closure Matrix

Recommendations regarding in-person school attendance, or closure, will be based on current guidelines, scientific evidence, and state and local disease trends.

Measures that should be taken when a student, teacher or staff member has symptoms, is in contact with someone infected, or tested positive with COVID-19:

Student or Staff with: Action Guidance Communication

COVID-19 Symptoms (e.g., fever, cough, loss of taste or smell, difficulty breathing)

CDC: Symptoms List

  • Send Home
  • Recommend testing (if positive, see #3, if negative, see #4)
  • If no test, may return to school when at least 10 days have passed since the first symptoms appeared AND 24 hours have passed symptom-free without the use of symptom reducing medication.
  • May return to school sooner if a doctor’s note is obtained indicating symptoms relate to an alternative diagnosis

Communication to parent regarding stay at home guidelines and the return to school protocol

No other action needed

Exposure (†) to a confirmed case of COVID-19 either at home, in the community, or at school
  • Send Home
  • Contact Health Care Provider or FLDOH-Lee County for direction
  • Quarantine for 14 days from known exposure date
  • Recommend testing (but will not shorten the 14-day quarantine)
  • If test is negative but symptoms develop, may return to school after 14-day quarantine has been completed AND at least 24 hours have passed symptom-free (without the use of symptom reducing medication.)

FLDOH-Lee County notifies families of exposure

SDLC communication to parent regarding return to school protocol and instructional continuity.

No other action needed

Confirmed COVID-19 case infection
  • Quarantine and exclude from school for 10 days from symptom onset or test date
  • If symptomatic, may return to school after 10 days have passed since the first symptoms appeared AND 24 hours have passed symptom-free without the use of symptom reducing medication.
  • DOH will Identify and contact exposure cases (close contacts) (†) for further instruction.

  • Consider classroom closure at those schools using the cohort system (††) (likely elementary schools)
  • Identification of all close contacts for quarantine at those schools where students use multiple classrooms (likely middle/high schools)
  • School remains open
  • Implement “Confirmed Positive Response Mitigation Protocols.

FLDOH-Lee County notifies of positive case/exposure

SDLC Communication to parent regarding return to school protocol and instructional continuity.

SDLC notification of a known case to the school community.

Tests negative after symptoms
  • If tested negative but experienced symptoms, may return to school after 10 days have passed since the first symptoms appeared AND 24 hours have passed symptom-free without the use of symptom reducing medication.
  • May return to school/work if student/employee was seen by a health care provider and provides a note stating student/employee is cleared to return to school/work. Note must include health care provider’s signature and return date.
 No action needed

(†) Exposure (close contact) is defined as a person who <6 feet from a case for >15 minutes. In some school situations, it may be difficult to determine whether individuals have met this criterion and an entire cohort, classroom, or other group may need to be considered exposed, particularly if people have spent time together indoors.

(††) A cohort is a stable group with fixed membership that stays together for all courses and activities (e.g., lunch, recess, etc.) and avoids contact with other persons or cohorts. Elementary Schools follow the cohort model during times of moderate or substantial spread in the community.

Guidance on School Closure

What are the criteria for closing a classroom?

Elementary Schools (cohort model):
Individual classroom closures in elementary schools may be considered when 5-percent of the teachers/students/staff in that classroom are positive for COVID-19 within a 14-day period. That means that individual classroom closures will be considered with a minimum of 1-2 positive cases within one classroom.

Middle/High Schools:
Individual classroom closures are difficult as students/teachers/staff members rotate through multiple classrooms throughout the day. Classrooms with a known exposure will be closed for deep cleaning, but all students within the class of an infected person will not necessarily require quarantine. Quarantine for exposure is based on the CDC guidelines of a person being located within 6 feet of a known positive for longer than 15 minutes (regardless of using a face covering). Therefore, all individuals identified by the Florida Department of Health – Lee County (FLDOH-Lee County) with close contact to a known positive will require quarantine for 14 days.

What are the criteria for closing a school?

Individual school closure will be recommended based on the number of cases, the percentage of teacher/students/staff that are positive for COVID-19, and following consultation with Local Public Health Officials.

Individual school closure may be appropriate when there are multiple cases in multiple cohorts at a school, or when greater than 5-percent of the total number of teachers/student/staff are absent within a 14-day period, depending on the size and physical layout of the school.

Local Public Health Officials may also determine a school closure is warranted for other reasons, including results from a public health investigation or other local epidemiological data. Closure may depend on, for example:

  1. extent of the community-wide spread, and/or
  2. whether the FL Department of Health-Lee County is able to confirm the source of an infection was contracted within the school setting.

If a classroom is closed, what does that mean for the students, and when may it reopen?

If an entire classroom, or cohort, is closed, that classroom (students and teachers) will transition to Lee Home Connect for a minimum of 14 days or a period of time recommended by Local Public Health Officials. Classrooms may typically reopen after 14 days and the following have occurred:

  • Cleaning and disinfection
  • Public health investigation
  • Consultation with the FLDOH - Lee County

If a school is closed for in-person learning, when may it reopen?

If a school is closed, students and teachers will transition to Lee Home Connect for a minimum of 14 days or a period of time recommended by Local Public Health Officials. Schools may typically reopen after 14 days and the following have occurred:

  • Cleaning and disinfection
  • Public health investigation
  • Consultation with the FLDOH - Lee County

What are the criteria for closing a school district?

The Superintendent should close the District if 25% or more of schools have closed due to COVID-19 within 14 days, and in consultation with Local Public Health Officials. If the cases are isolated to one zone (East, South, West) consideration may be given to closing the Zone rather than the entire district. If the District is closed, students and teachers will transition to Lee Home Connect.

If the School District is closed, when may it reopen?

The District will be in consultation with Local Public Health Officials to determine the amount of time the district will be closed to in person learning.