COVID Testing Updates

September 20, 2021.  Several local Pediatricians' Offices report that they need to delay or restict access for Covid testing to only those patients who have symptoms (see Norhtampton Area Pediatrics Sept. 17 e-newsletter).  Also, anecdotal reports from parents indicate similar issues at other local test sites:  there is a shortage of testing supplies.  Because of this, we are experiencing delays in implementing the MA Routine Covid Safety Checks ("pooled testing") here at HPS.

To quote our friends at Northampton Peds:  Please bear with us!  DESE and DPH are working to resolve the statewide testing supply issues with the goal of launching the weekly "pooled testing" Routine Covid Safety Checks as soon as possible. 

In the meantime, please note that BinaxNOW Rapid Antigen tests are now being utilized using  new "Test & Stay" (in school) protocols for certain close contact circumstances.  "Test & Stay" is being implemented in most states following promising research done in Utah and the United Kingdom demonstrating the effectiveness of these new protocols.   Test results are available in approximately15 minutes giving families a greater degree of confidence in helping students and staff stay as healthy and safe as possible while actively monitoring for symptom development at home.

The MA DESEDPH Partner Lab CIC Health covers both the "pooled testing" and the "test & stay" with one Routine Covid Safety Check consent form.  If you haven't already completed your child's online consent, we strongly encourage you to do so.  Simply click "consent now", complete, and submit the CIC Consent Form.

Vaccines for COVID 19 continue to be widely available.  While national scientific conversations about the potential for vaccines for younger children and boosters in a safe manner continue, please consider having eligible family members vaccinated now.  The MA "Trust the Facts / Get the Vax" site provides helpful background information while the Vaxfinder Site is a convenient tool to find nearby locations for the vaccines

Please continue to monitor your child for symptoms using the HPS Symptom Reminder.  Remember to read, complete, and submit (one time) this form this month.  At this time, parents will not need to complete Daily Symptom Checks (as was done last year - we heard you!).  If your child develops any of the common symptoms mentioned or develops new, worsening or persistent symptoms such as a spreading rash, please keep your child home, report to the absentee line, contact your pediatrician for an evaluation if needed, and notify your building nurse.  

Please include spare face masks in your child's back pack for use as needed and encourage your child to change their mask when it becomes wet, soiled, or torn.  Have your child cough or sneeze in their elbow to further reduce spread.  Encourage frequent handwashing (and drying), avoid crowds in confined spaces, and promote daily cleaning.  Scrubbing with good old soap and water removes most germs from most surfaces.  

HPS is fortunate to continue with our updated air filtration systems and portable air filters.  These steps along with providing daily cleaning and disinfecting help keep the school facilities as safe and clean as possible.

Together, we can keep in-person learning in place this year.  Thank you for continuing to be the backbone of the HPS Health & Safety efforts.

Jean Hobbie, School Nurse Manager / Hatfield Elementary Primary Nurse,

Martha Elliott, Smith Academy Nurse,