2021-2022 COVID Procedures

  • February 16th Update

    In alignment with the current Department of Elementary & Secondary Education guidelines, last night the MERSD School Committee voted to rescind its mask policy effective February 28, 2022.  Maintaining a safe environment is critical to the District’s ability to ensure students remain in a full-time classroom learning environment, and masking is strongly supported and encouraged for all who wish to continue with this mitigation practice.  Masks will still be available in all schools.  Additionally, MERSD will continue the at-home testing program, and all are encouraged to enroll. MERSD Student At-Home Testing Opt-In   / MERSD Staff At-Home Testing Opt-In 

    Although masks will become optional for students and staff, there are circumstances when they are still required. In accordance with guidance and recommendations from the Center for Disease Control (CDC), the Department of Elementary and Secondary Education (DESE), and the Massachusetts Department of Public Health (DPH), the following requirements are in place until further notice:

    • A face covering that covers the nose and mouth is strongly recommended to be worn by individuals who remain unvaccinated or are otherwise immunocompromised in school buildings, and on school grounds, even when social distancing is observed. 
    • Individuals who are vaccinated are not required to wear a mask but may do so if desired.
    • Students and staff returning from a 5-day quarantine following a positive COVID test must follow strict mask use, other than when eating, drinking, or outside, and conduct active monitoring for symptoms, through day 10 of exposure.
    • Masks will be required in all school health offices.

    MERSD will continue to monitor COVID-related regulations and make adjustments to district protocols in accordance with the guidance from the Department of Elementary and Secondary Education and our local Boards of Health.

    In alignment with MERSD’s Strategic Plan core value of creating, a just and equitable environment that respects individual differences and the diversity of, our communities, country, and world,  I ask that as we transition to this next phase of COVID management all members of the MERSD community work to support each other, consider the community implication of personal decisions, and value each other's personal choice in this matter






    January 28,22 Update - At-Home Testing Program

    In accordance with the Department of Elementary and Secondary Education (DESE) and the Department of Public Health (DPH), our district is updating our COVID-19 Testing Program, effective January 31, 2022. We are opting into an at-home testing program that will increase testing of our participating students and staff, regardless of vaccination status. For more information about this update to the statewide testing program, please click here. The transition to the at-home testing option will begin the week of January 31, 2022, with the first student at-home testing day set for February 8, 2022.   

    As part of this shift in the program, we are discontinuing the use of the MedBot daily screener, contact tracing for in-school close contacts, and the Test and Stay protocol. We will continue symptomatic testing during the week. This new at-home testing opportunity is voluntary and only those who opt-in will receive tests. We strongly encourage you to fill out the form by February 2, 2022, to opt-in. If you have questions, please contact your school nurse. 

    COVID-19 Testing Programs in our Schools:

    1. At-Home Rapid Antigen Testing on Tuesdays beginning February 8th.  / MERSD Student  At-Home Testing Opt-In-Click Here
    2. Symptomatic Testing (If you have not yet signed up, click here)

    Overview: At-Home Rapid Testing Program

    ~About the Test: iHealth is a 15-minute at-home FDA-approved rapid antigen test

    ~Opt-In: To participate, you must opt-in by completing the MERSD Student At-Home Testing Opt-In.

    • Please complete a separate form for each student participating. 
    • By opting in, you will agree to review the training materials for test administration, report positive test results, and administer the tests according to MERSD’s guidelines.
    • If you opt-in, you will receive a follow-up email with information on how tests will be distributed.

    ~Weekly: Every two weeks you will receive an iHealth at-home rapid test kit. Each kit includes two individual tests. You will administer one test each week on Tuesdays beginning February 8th.

    ~Reporting Positive Test Results: If you test positive on an at-home antigen test, you will report the positive result using the MedBot notification link.  Each Tuesday you will receive a MedBot notification reminding you to submit your testing result.  The district will keep the results confidential and will not make individual results public. In addition, it is strongly recommended that you inform your healthcare professional of the positive result.

    ~Easy, Free, and Flexible: This test is administered at home (not at school), reducing the burden on school staff and time to administer tests and increasing your flexibility to do testing in the home for free.

    ~As always, if you are feeling please stay home.

    How do I administer the test?

    • Click here for a full “how-to” written guide in various languages
    • Click here for a video of an individual self-testing

    How do I submit the results?

    • Submit Results: You must submit positive test results. Each Tuesday you will receive a MedBot notification reminding you to submit your testing result.
    • Confidentiality: Positive test results are shared with the district for informational purposes only. Individual results will remain confidential, and they will never be made public.

    Beginning Week of January 31st

    Discontinued as of January 31st: MedBot, Contact Tracing, Test & Stay

    Protocols Beginning Week of January 31st

    Symptomatic Testing (Consent)

    At-Home Testing (Opt-In) - See Details Above

    • Opt-In Form will be shared week of January 24th
    • 1 I-Health Kit (2 tests) every two weeks
    • Family Reports Results to school via online form


    ~Positive – DESE Guidelines

    Return to school on day 6 and once:

    1. Symptoms improve

    2. Fever-free without fever-reducing medicine for 24 hours

    3. Ability to tolerate strict masking and distancing

    Please Note:

      • Following the 5-day isolation period, individuals must practice strict masking and distancing for 5 additional days when around others.
      • The 5-day isolation period begins the first day after the positive result was taken, or if the individual is symptomatic first day after the onset of symptoms.
      • Individuals who do not meet these criteria after 5 days of isolation should receive clearance from either public health authority contract tracers (the local board of health of Community Tracing Collaborative) or school health professionals before returning to school.
      • Return to school should be based on time and symptoms resolution. It is not recommended that individuals take another COVID test prior to return.

    ~DPH Ordered Quarantine

    ~School Close Contact Discontinued – DESE Guidelines

      • Discontinue identification of potential school close contacts and preventative quarantine



    • Per DESE mandatory through February 28th
    • Pursue DESE mask waiver beginning in March 2022



    ~Aligned w/ DESE recommendations - Distancing 3ft or to the extent possible 

    DESE Guidance 8.27.21:  The CDC guidance supports the use of vaccines as the primary mitigation measure in school settings, and also continues to recommend masking in K-12 schools. Additionally, according to the CDC, “Because of the importance of in-person learning, schools where not everyone is fully vaccinated should implement physical distancing to the extent possible within their structures, but should not exclude students from in-person learning to keep a minimum distance requirement.” 1 Massachusetts has among the highest vaccination rates of any state in the nation, 2 and evidence continues to reinforce that the COVID-19 vaccines are highly effective, especially against severe disease.3


    1 Guidance for COVID-19 Prevention in K-12 Schools: Physical Distancing: https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019- ncov/community/schools-childcare/k-12-guidance.html#physical-distancing

    2 “Data Table for COVID-19 Vaccinations in the United States,” CDC 2021. Data as of July 26, 2021. Available at: https://covid.cdc.gov/covid-data-tracker/#vaccinations

    3 Jamie Lopez Bernal, Nick Andrews, Charlotte Govwer, Eileen Gallagher, et. al. July 21, 2021. “Effectiveness of COVID-19 Vaccines against the B.1.617.2 (Delta) Variant.” The New England Journal of Medicine. Available at: https://www.nejm.org/doi/full/10.1056/NEJMoa210889


    Cleaning & Building Maintenance

    • Continue w/ Current Protocols – Link



    January 2022 - Update & Reminders

    We Need Your Help

    • Stay home when sick
    • Please complete MedBot daily – it is our first line of defense for preventing in-school transmission
    • Please utilize best practices for playdates and gatherings when unvaccinated students are in attendance
      • Mask Indoors
      • Maintain Social Distancing (3 feet +when indoors)
      • Wash hands frequently

    MERSD Layered Mitigation Plan

    • Current COVID procedures - See Detailed Plan Below
    • MERSD/DESE has extended its indoor masking requirement through January 15th.
    • The Manchester Essex Regional School District will be continuing its use of MyMedBot to screen MERSD community members for potential COVID symptoms and exposure each school day. 
      • Each day you will be prompted to complete a very brief survey prior to sending your child(ren) to school. This should take less than a minute. We strongly encourage you to set a routine for yourself. PLEASE complete the app at home at least 30 minutes prior to your child’s school start time.
      • If you do not complete the survey, you will receive a reminder prompt.
      • All parent/caregiver emails on file will be linked to each student account, allowing any parent/caregiver to complete the survey. If the survey has been completed on one device, it will reflect in the app for all family members.
      • If you have multiple children to report, they will all be linked in your account and will display together on your conclusion window.
      • If you are told to stay home, please contact your school nurse by phone for further instructions. 
    • Test and stay allows students who have had close contact with a person who tested positive for COVID-19 while at school to stay in school if the student is not showing symptoms.
      • Duration: 7 days
      • Test: rapid test daily on school days. Remain in school provided student tests negative and remains asymptomatic
      • Weekend Testing: Only test on weekends if participating in an extracurricular school activity
      • Quarantine when outside of school setting
      • Monitor for Symptoms: through day 14
      • Test and Stay to Remain in School Guidelines
    • COVID Dashboard: This year positive cases are reported through our COVID Dashboard.  The data is officially updated on Wednesdays in preparation for the filing of our state report.  As always if you have been identified as a close contact, the nurse will reach out to you individually, and quarantined students will be contacted by the school regarding procedures for managing work while absent. In the event we should have a spike in the number of positive cases that impact a classroom or team, I will send a notice to the MERSD community. Quarantined students will be contacted by the school regarding procedures for managing work while absent.
    • Vaccination: In addition to mitigation efforts, vaccination is a critical component of our safety plan.  I ask that you please vaccinate yourself and your eligible children to help us keep our staff and students safe at school.  Don’t forget your boosters if eligible. 

    Thank you for your cooperation and have an enjoyable and safe holiday break.  


    2021-2022 COVID Layered Mitigation Plan

    Priority Goals:

    • Student and Staff Health & Safety
    • Open in and sustain full in-person instruction
    • Minimize staff and student absences


    • Follow the CDC Prevention Strategies & Recommendations for Masking and Distancing
    • Implement Layered Mitigation

    Effective:  August 23, 2021 / Update January 2022

    CDC Prevention Strategies

    CDC recommends universal indoor masking, physical distancing to the extent possible, and additional prevention strategies to protect students, teachers, and staff. Schools should not exclude students from in-person learning to keep a minimum distance requirement; layering multiple prevention strategies is essential when physical distancing of at least 3 feet is not possible at all times.

    MERSD Application of Consistent and correct mask use & Physical distancing

    • Masks required for all staff and students indoor activities and on buses (except for medical exemption)
    • Maintain three feet distancing guidelines when organizing physical space (classrooms/cafes)
      • Single desk seating at lunches
    • Public admittance to buildings by appointment only / masks required
    • No Restrictions Outdoors

    MERSD Application of Screening testing to promptly identify cases, clusters, and outbreaks, Screening testing to promptly identify cases, clusters, and outbreaks, Staying home when sick and getting tested, Contact tracing, in combination with isolation and quarantine

    • Continue with MedBot Daily Screener
    • Implement the DESE Diagnostic Testing Program
      • Symptomatic Testing:(for when individuals present symptoms while at school; individuals should not go to school if experiencing symptoms while at home): Shallow nasal swab samples are collected at school using the BinaxNOW rapid antigen test or another approved diagnostic test.
      • "Test and Stay" (close contact testing): Shallow nasal swab samples are collected at school using the BinaxNOW rapid antigen test or another approved diagnostic test. Tests are administered daily from the first day of exposure for at least five (5) days.

    MERSD Application of Ventilation and  Cleaning and disinfection

    MERSD Application Handwashing and respiratory etiquette

    • Continue Hygiene stations and routines established Spring 21

     (Link to Slide Deck from 8.171.21 SC Meeting)