At the beginning of week four, we are experiencing no particular trends in “active community cases.” We are seeing a few new cases weekly, shown on the Dashboard, with older cases dropping off the dashboard as people return to school [Update: After publishing time on Sept. 20, I learned of three new reported cases within one family, tested over the weekend. These add to the number of new “active community case” totals from last week, and so do represent an “upward trend” in the “new positive COVID cases by week” graph.].  Those returning to school are of course newly equipped with antibodies. At this point, we have no evidence that any community case has been contracted at school or a school event.

Reported symptoms of COVID continue to be mild to moderate.  One family reports diagnoses of “COVID pneumonia” in a parent and child, and their experience of symptoms is more acute. (The parent and child had been quarantined for a week when diagnosed.) 

I mentioned recently that you may hear of a community member here and there who is quarantining with COVID but not reflected on our Dashboard.  There are such cases; and an emerging reason for this is that a community member may have been out already because a family member had COVID, and they themselves developed symptoms while already quarantining at home.  We do not include cases where individuals were not present at school or a school activity while infectious, because they do not present a risk of school transmission.  

Most cases we are seeing thus far (both on and off the Dashboard) appear to come from household transmission. The situation of household-member cases is raising additional questions about student quarantining and quarantine periods.  While we have a general policy for these situations on our “2021-22 COVID Policy” page, I invite you to contact School Nurse Mrs. Molly Kukuljan (763-258-2507 or by email) for a conversation about your own specific experience and circumstances.

I’d like to call your attention to a new revision, based on early experience and reflection, of our “General Sickness” section on the “2021-22 COVID Policy” page:

General Sickness

Providence community members should stay home or go home if they are sick. All parents are asked to do daily health checks with students before sending them to school. We recommend testing for COVID if the student exhibits (1) one or more of the “more common” symptoms: fever of 100.4 or higher, new or worsening cough, difficulty breathing, new loss of taste or smell; or (2), two or more of the “less common” symptoms: sore throat, nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, chills, muscle pain, extreme fatigue, new serious headache, new nasal congestion or runny nose.

If a family opts not to test for COVID in these situations, the student exhibiting symptoms will need to quarantine as if they had the illness. If the student is tested for COVID and the result is negative, they may return to school once fevers have abated for at least 24 hours without fever-reducing medications, symptoms have significantly improved, and they feel well enough to come back.

We have also revised some of our “2021-22 COVID Policy FAQ’s,”  linked here.

In recent weeks we have shared some graphs showing sustained low pediatric hospitalization rates where COVID is a factor. We’ll do this again as updated graphs become available, since we think that severity of illness among children is far more significant for PA’s navigation of “COVID Year 2” than are case numbers. Hospitalization rates are excellent data for assessing rises and falls in severity of risks among various demographic groups.

Another relevant data point is the success of school-age children in recovering from COVID when they contract it.  The cumulative recovery rate among reported cases in Minnesota is 99.99% for children ages 0 to 9; and 100% for children ages 10 to 19.  This is very encouraging to know.  

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