October, 27 2020
Madison School Community Members,
I am writing to provide you with some critical information regarding the updated guidance on “close contacts” as it pertains to individuals’ exposure to COVID-19. On October 23, 2020 the New Jersey Department of Health issued updated guidance regarding the definition of a close contact. This information is based on recent guidance from the CDC. The document explicitly defines the modifications to the definition of a close contact to include a cumulative total of 15 minutes or more of close contact (within 6 feet) exposure to an infected person during a 24-hour period. Please note that this is a change from previous guidance which noted 15 minutes of consecutive contact with an infected person at a distance that is less than 6 feet.
A key factor to consider is the point at which an individual comes into contact with an infected person. The NJDOH noted that exposure must occur during the time when the person is considered to be infectious. The infectious period is considered to be two days prior to the onset of symptoms. In the case of an asymptomatic individual who has tested positive, the infectious period is considered to be two days prior to specimen collection. In both cases, the infectious period extends for 10 days after the onset of symptoms and one day after the resolution of a fever. It is possible that in more severe cases or for individuals who are immunocompromised the infectious period may last up to 20 days in duration.
As the district continues its efforts to assist the local department of health in the contact tracing process, it has become evident that each instance of COVID-19 exposure within our community is truly unique. Through ongoing communication and collaboration, the district has been able to work effectively with the Madison Department of Health in order to allow for timely communication and subsequent contact tracing. While each instance is different, there are a number of common factors to consider when determining close contacts including:
Proximity (closer distance likely increases exposure risk)
Duration of exposure (longer exposure time likely increases exposure risk)
Whether the infected individual has symptoms (the period around onset of symptoms is associated with the highest levels of viral shedding)
If the infected person was likely to generate respiratory aerosols (e.g., was
coughing, singing, shouting)
Other environmental factors (crowding, adequacy of ventilation, whether exposure was indoors or outdoors)
It is important to acknowledge the tremendous support and assistance that has been provided by you, the members of the Madison Public Schools community. Parent input and cooperation in the contact tracing process has aided not only the district but also the Madison Department of Health. The district is immensely grateful for your conscientiousness and dedication in ensuring a safe and sanitary learning environment for our students and staff.
Please feel free to reach out to Assistant Superintendent Dr. Frank Santora at firstname.lastname@example.org with any questions or concerns.
Superintendent of Schools
Frank Santora, Ed.D.
Assistant Superintendent for Pupil Personnel Services