MCPS: A Letter from the School System Medical Officer with Important Information for Thanksgiving Break

by Patrick Herron

MCPD released the following community message on Friday, November 18:
“Dear MCPS Community,
Let me start by wishing all of you an enjoyable Thanksgiving! As we prepare to gather and celebrate the upcoming holidays, let’s think about how we can enjoy the time together, while keeping health in mind. Please review the holiday health reminders at the bottom of this message. The CDC also offers these holiday health strategies which include general wellness tips, and this guide to everyday actions to prevent the spread of flu-like illness, including flu and RSV.

I would also like to share these health news items before the break:

  1. MCPS continues to work with our local health department to closely monitor local disease trends and provide support to our schools and worksites.  COVID-19 rates have been stable over the past few weeks, while influenza has increased in our region, and absences due to fever and respiratory illness have increased.  We continue to reinforce good infection control and health behaviors that help reduce the spread of respiratory viruses.  With our public health partners, we provide resources and guidance to schools, keeping in mind our goal to support safe and uninterrupted learning.
  2. COVID-19 home test kits will be distributed to staff and students before November 23. Since holiday activities like travel and large social gatherings can increase the risk of exposure to COVID-19, we want to make sure everyone has access to home testing. If you receive an iHealth test kit, remember to look up the extended expiration date on this table. If you receive one of the new test kits from InteliSwab, you may want to view these video instructions. For family members, the county health department provides free test kits to Montgomery County residents.

    Testing is not mandatory for returning staff and students. We are depending on our staff and families to consider personal exposure risk, and test and report positive results using our online tool.  It may be difficult to tell if symptoms are from COVID-19 or another flu-like illness, and testing is an important way to identify individuals actively positive for COVID-19 who should follow CDC isolation guidelines to prevent further transmission.

The pandemic has shown us the importance of cherishing time together with friends and family, and our shared responsibility in health and safety.  Once again, I thank everyone for their commitment to the health of our school community, and for supporting each other with respect and kindness.

Sincerely,
Patricia Kapunan, M.D., M.P.H.”
MCPS Medical Officer

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