Department of Health updates COVID-19 prevention strategies at Hawaiʻi schools
While the pandemic may be over, the risk of COVID-19 is still real and as a result the Hawai’i Department of Health recently updated its guidance documents to ensure local keiki are protected from the virus at school.
According to a recent report, the new guidance documents spell out safe practices and recommendations for local students that include home isolation and exposure, return to work guidance, identifying and talking to close contacts, and home care and prevention.
According to the updated comprehensive K-12 school guidance, there are new protocols for students and staff who may show sickness.
For starters, if a student or staff has become sick at school, they should immediately be separated and go home or to a healthcare provider based on symptom severity.
Here’s a look at a few other guidelines:
- Individuals who are sick should wear a face mask, if possible.
- Identify an isolation area to separate anyone who has COVID-19 symptoms.
- Ensure students are isolated in a non-threatening manner, within the line of sight of an
adult, and only as long as necessary.
- Ensure staff managing sick students or employees are appropriately protected from
potential exposure to COVID-19.
- Staff caring for a sick student or staff should be provided appropriate personal
protective equipment, including an N95 respirator or equivalent (or double
masking with a surgical and tight-fitting cloth mask if a respirator is not available) and
follow standard and transmission-based precautions.
- Gloves, gowns and face shields are not routinely required, but consider using during
interactions with a student or employee who is actively coughing or with special medical
- Refer to CDC guidance on “When and How to Clean and Disinfect a Facility” for guidance on appropriate cleaning and disinfection procedures after a case is identified.
- When performing notification, schools should rapidly identify the impacted group setting and notify any potentially exposed group members of contact with a person with COVID-19 infection, while keeping the person’s identity and personal health information confidential.
- If your school is experiencing a suspected outbreak, notify the Hawai’i State Department of Health within 24 hours via the online COVID-19 Outbreak or Case Reporting Tool. The principal, supervisor or program contract manager is responsible for reporting the suspected outbreak to the DOH.