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HPS 2021-22 School Year Information and Updates

January 3, 2022

Dear Hamden Public Schools Community,
I hope everyone had a safe and restful New Year. During the break, my staff and I monitored the changing COVID-19 landscape, especially as it relates to the Omicron variant. The following information represents a significant shift in how Hamden Public Schools will be managing COVID-19.  The State Department of Education (CSDE) and Department of Public Health (DPH) have provided updated guidance taking into account the impact of the Omicron variant.

Recent guidance issued by the CT DPH advised shortening the recommended time for isolation. Individuals with COVID-19 should isolate for five days and if they are asymptomatic or their symptoms are resolving and they’re without fever for 24 hours, they should follow that by five days of wearing a mask when around others to minimize the risk of infecting people they encounter.

Hamden Public Schools is adopting the revised guidance.  The attached table provided by the CT DPH will guide Hamden Public Schools through different scenarios connected to isolation, quarantine, testing, and a return to school, which may occur in school settings, considerations for each individual situation, and appropriate actions for individuals and schools to take in response.  This guidance replicates the previous guidance in that it is clear that the positive individual may not return at the end of the isolation period if that person is continuing to be symptomatic.  Such symptoms may include:  fever, measured temp 100.4F or more, chills, cough, shortness of breath, difficulty breathing, loss of taste or smell not absolute- please consult your physician.  To best ensure the health and welfare of our school community, you may return on day six after symptom onset or test date, which ever occurs first.

The Omicron variant is also impacting contact tracing.  The rate of COVID-19 spread is so high nationally, that all people should be employing the stringent mitigation strategies our schools continue to practice.  As it relates to contact tracing the Connecticut Department of Public Health indicates the following:

Because individual-level contact tracing is a tool that becomes less effective when community transmission levels are high, DPH recommends that schools begin to refocus the activities of health staff away from the investigation of relatively low risk in-school exposures and toward the identification, early isolation, and clinical management of students and staff with active symptoms that could be related to COVID-19. At this time given: 1) the current very high level of community transmission throughout our state; 2) the experience of Connecticut school districts that have conducted in-person learning throughout the past two years of the pandemic, even in the setting of very high community transmission; 3) the infrequent conversion of close contacts; and 4) the need to prioritize available resources in PreK-12 schools, the position of the Connecticut Department of Public Health (DPH) is that routine contact tracing of individual exposures that occur inside schools or during school-organized and supervised activities can be discontinued (subject to the conditions and provisions indicated below) without posing a significantly increased risk of negative impact on in-school transmission of COVID-19 or access to in-person learning.  

The conditions referenced include effective mitigation strategies, low evidence of in-school spread, and universal masking.  DPH also made a recommendation to change our notification protocols.  We typically send out notifications that an individual in the school tested positive.  We will now send out notification that an individual in your child’s classroom (at the elementary schools) or on your child’s team (at the middle school) has tested positive.  The High School community will continue to receive notification that an individual/s in the school has tested positive. 

Regarding students with Section 504 or IEP plans: If there is a unique situation where a child has a current, documented medical condition and it is determined through the PPT/504 process that the child’s attendance in school, with reasonable accommodations may not be feasible, the PPT or 504 team will convene (along with documentation and consultation from the child's treating physician) to discuss and recommend programming needs. 

At this time, student athletes competing in our High School and Middle School programs will follow current CIAC/DPH guidelines. We are expecting these guidelines to be updated soon.

Finally, Connecticut Public Schools currently do not have an option to move to remote learning. Only the Governor through Executive Order or the Legislature through law can allow for remote learning. Therefore, any day we are not able to staff a building and provide a safe learning environment for our children, that day will have to be made up. During this challenging time, building principals will continue to do their best to manage their staff to keep their schools open.

Again, thank you for your patience and understanding as we navigate these constantly changing circumstances and work to ensure that all of our students have safe access to in-person learning every day.


Jody Ian Goeler
Hamden Public Schools

District Communications