Home Traveling guide Unvaccinated students from RI are advised to quarantine themselves after any travel

Unvaccinated students from RI are advised to quarantine themselves after any travel

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PROVIDENCE – Principals are frustrated and puzzled over an ever-evolving series of recommendations on whether to quarantine unvaccinated students if they cross the Rhode Island line.

On the state’s Department of Health website, unvaccinated students are advised to quarantine for a week after traveling anywhere out of state, even if they get a test result negative. This would apply to all children under 12, who are not yet eligible for a vaccine.

But a PowerPoint presentation from the Department of Health to superintendents on September 10 offered a dizzying array of advice on high- and low-risk scenarios, leaving school leaders more confused than ever.

“We are not travel agents,” said Superintendent North Smithfield. Michel Saint-Jean. “We are looking for something more definitive.

In some ways, the situation reflects the confusion of the summer when the state said it would strongly recommend the wearing of masks in schools but did not enforce it. Eventually, the Elementary and Secondary Education Council voted to mandate the masks, which led Gov. Dan McKee to issue a warrant soon after.

The latest Ministry of Health directive on domestic travel is titled “How to Assess the Risks Associated with Domestic Travel”.

It offers the following examples: Where is the person traveling? A condition with a test positivity rate greater than 5% is at higher risk. A low risk condition is a condition with a positivity rate of less than 5%.

What activities will the person participate in? Higher risk includes attending a concert, wedding, or funeral. Lesser risk includes hiking.

What forms of transportation do they use: Highest risks include planes, trains, buses, and other forms of group transportation. A lower risk would be a private automobile.

As St. John said, “Did they drive? Did they travel by train or bus? Have they stayed in a hotel? Did they stay by a lake? And that was to help us make the decision to quarantine upon their return. ”

A slide from a state health department PowerPoint presentation that was intended to help school officials assess a student's risk of out-of-state displacement.

Parents, he said, are very frustrated, and that’s understandable.

“Parents are scared,” he said. “There is a great desire to get back to normal.

North Smithfield simply refers parents to Department of Health guidelines and leaves it at that.

Superintendents say they don’t have the time or inclination to play 20 questions with parents, assuming families tell them they’re going out of state in the first place.

“We don’t enforce quarantine on people who travel,” said the North Kingstown superintendent. Philippe Auger. “We are not in a position to apply it.

“You could go to a festival with 2,000 people in Rhode Island and come to school the next day, but if you’re traveling to see Grandma in Maine, you have to quarantine yourself,” he said. declared. “That does not make sense.”

However, Channel 10 recently reported that in Cranston, a second grader was sent home and quarantined for seven days after drawing a picture of herself visiting her grandmother in Maine. The Cranston superintendent’s office did not immediately return a phone call about the situation on Thursday.

Asked about the confusion some superintendents were expressing, Department of Health spokesman Joseph Wendelken said, “Throughout the pandemic, we have referred to CDC guidelines on interstate travel. Travel increases a person’s chances of contracting and spreading COVID-19, which is why the CDC has implemented this quarantine recommendation. ”

But CDC guidelines don’t define the trip: is it a trip to Target in Seekonk or a weekend at a New Hampshire water park?

During the height of pandemic travel restrictions last year, former Governor Gina Raimondo still allowed Rhode Islanders to cross the state border for a quick trip to Marshall’s or Stop & Shop. She later authorized non-quarantine travel to states where less than 5% of recent coronavirus tests were positive.

Then there is the honesty factor.

“I don’t get a lot of people who admit they travel,” Superintendent East Providence said. Kathy Crowley, who said her district is asking families to test their unvaccinated children on their return instead of quarantining them.

“We would all prefer clear guidelines,” Deputy Superintendent East Providence said. Sandy Forand. “We want our students to be safe. We try to be data driven. But if you sleep with Grandma on a weekend, should you have to quarantine yourself? ”

With reports from editor Tom Mooney

COVID in numbers

IR cases: 167,975 (322 reported Thursday)

Negative IR tests: 4,882,636 (18,176 reported Thursday; 1.7% positive rates)

COVID-related deaths at RI: 2,810 (1 reported Thursday)

Rhode Islanders hospitalized with COVID: 121 (17 in intensive care)

Fully vaccinated in IR: 700,735 (768,035 at least partially vaccinated)

Mass Case: 786,627

Mass. COVID-related deaths: 18,408

US cases: 41,685,417

COVID-related deaths in the United States: 667,359

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