Working together to keep our community safe
COVID-19 Updates for 2023-2024 School Year
We would like to provide some updates about COVID-19 for this school year. The Somerville Public Schools follow guidance from the Department of Elementary and Secondary Education (DESE), the Massachusetts Department of Public Health (MDPH) and the Centers for Disease Control (CDC). We are no longer reporting the number of positive cases every week, nor doing contact tracing. Therefore, we are not sending letters when there are positive cases, nor recommending masking for entire classrooms.
We are at a different place in the pandemic than in previous years. The CDC has determined that approximately 96% of Americans have some immunity to COVID-19. Widespread vaccination, as well as effective treatments, have reduced the risk of serious illness.This is particularly true for children ages 5-17, who have the lowest risk of severe illness among any age group.
As people return from summer break, there is often an increase in circulating viruses as people gather together indoors, whether with friends and family in the community, or at school. COVID-19 is one of several viruses we have seen since the start of school. This is a gentle reminder to keep your children home when they are ill and to let the school nurse know. We encourage you to tell us the diagnosis, if known, any time your child is sick. This helps us monitor the prevalent illnesses in the community.
MDPH, the CDC and DESE have not changed the guidelines for people who test positive for COVID-19. If your student tests positive for COVID-19, please remember:
- Students should stay home for 5 days from symptom onset. The onset of symptoms is Day 0.
- Students may return to school on Day 6 if symptoms have improved and they have been fever-free for 24 hours without the use of fever-reducing medication.
- Students should wear a high-quality mask, such as an N95 or KN95, through Day 10. Per DESE, if the student has a negative test on Day 5 or later, they no longer need to wear a mask.
- If a household member has tested positive, students are asked to wear a mask for 10 days and to test if symptoms develop.
- At-home test kits are still available through the school nurses.
For other illnesses, such as flu, your student may return to school once symptoms have improved and they have been fever-free for 24 hours without the use of medication.
As always, vaccination is the best protection against serious illness. We encourage all members of the SPS community to consider getting the new COVID-19 vaccine and a flu shot when they become available.
We will continue to monitor the latest public health guidance and will adapt policies as needed.
For more information about when to keep your child home, please visit the SPS website: https://somerville.k12.ma.us/district-departments/school-nursing-health-services
The national public health emergency, which made it possible for the government to provide COVID testing, vaccines and other benefits for free, expired May 11, 2023. Widespread vaccination and immunity, as well as antiviral treatments and the decreased virulence of recent variants, have reduced the risk of serious illness from COVID-19 and the symptoms are mild for most people.
What does this mean for SPS families and staff?
- Many private insurers (Blue Cross/Blue Shield, Harvard Pilgrim, Tufts) will no longer pay for at-home COVID tests.
- SPS will continue to make free at-home tests available until supplies run out. Please check with your school’s main office.
- Families with MassHealth will be asked to recertify their eligibility for benefits. Please do not ignore the BLUE ENVELOPE you receive in the mail. If you have questions, please contact your doctor’s office, the Family Liaison at your school or SomerViva.
- Masks will no longer be required in the school nurse’s office.
- Isolation requirements for people who test positive have not changed. People who test positive are asked to remain at home for 5 days from symptom onset followed by 5 days of masking. If the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) and the Massachusetts Department of Public Health (MDPH) change the isolation guidance, SPS will update this policy.
- We will continue to monitor the latest public health guidance and will adapt policies as needed.
Visit the City of Somerville webpage for COVID-19 Information and more resources.
We urge our community members and eligible students to get vaccinated against COVID-19. Vaccination is the strongest protective measure against COVID-19 available to individuals six months of age and older. Currently, only one shot is needed. To find a vaccine clinic near you, please click on the link. Access your Massachusetts COVID-19 Vaccine Record at the MyVaxRecords website.
You may also contact your school's nurse with questions.
What to do if you or your child tests positive or is a close contact