What rules are currently in use in schools to manage the coronavirus epidemic at the time of the Omicron variant. These measures have already been discussed, but we will try to see more clearly by starting from a document recently published by ONE (Office of Birth and Childhood).
Immunization status, testing, quarantine and isolation
ONE first of all recalls the vaccination statutes:
Fully vaccinated people are those over 18 who have received a “booster” dose or whose last dose of the vaccine was administered no more than 5 months ago or finally if she has had a certificate of reinstatement for no more than 5 months. Regarding 12-17 year olds, they are considered to be fully vaccinated if they have received their basic vaccination regardless of the date.
Partially vaccinated people are those who received the last dose of vaccine more than 5 months ago and did not receive the booster dose.
Unvaccinated people are all others including those who received only one dose of the two needed.
For kids (in nursery and primary) they must follow thethe same rules in quarantine and isolation that the least immunized parent in the household. Unless he was PCR tested positive for coronavirus less than 5 months ago.
Also remember that the rules for testing, quarantine and isolation have also changed recently:
- If you are considered to be a high-risk contact and you have no symptoms (asymptomatic) you should no longer go to a testing center (PCR), the self-tests are sufficient.
- On the other hand, if you develop symptoms you will have to go to a center for a PCR test.
All the explanations for the current rules (for everyone) for testing, quarantine and isolation are detailed in the article below:
►►► To read also: Omicron variant in Belgium: testing, quarantine… what are the new rules to follow from January 10? (infographics)
For nursery and primary
Less than 4 cases
Since January 10, a class is only closed if 4 or more positive cases are confirmed (or 25% of the class). This means that in the event of exposure at school or out-of-school care, if there are less than 4 cases (including teacher or other supervisory staff) over a 7 day period, the whole group is considered low risk.
ONE recalls that anyone considered to be at low risk must always be tested for possible symptoms of Covid-19.
More than 4 cases (Emergency brake)
Beyond 4 cases (including the teacher or other supervisory staff), the group or class will be closed for a period of 5 days, without exception and therefore including for adults and children who have tested positive for Covid -19 less than 5 months ago. Members of the class or group should go to a center for a test if the center develops possible symptoms of Covid-19.
When returning to class, it is a question of emphasizing barrier gestures and preventive measures for 5 additional days. Among the measures (often already applied): wearing a mask, ventilation, avoiding mixing groups, monitoring symptoms, not associating with vulnerable people and recommendation not to participate in recreational activities.
These preventive measures are also recommended for 10 days as soon as a case of Covid-19 is confirmed in a classroom.
The rules are the same (low-risk contact, etc.) in special education, even if wearing a mask and being at a distance are not always possible.
Secondary and non-university higher education
In the case of a high-risk contact (more than 15 minutes at less than 1.5 m) the rules for students in secondary and non-university higher education are the same as for the general population:
- Namely, for a vaccinated student, there is no quarantine, but the latter must strictly apply preventive measures for 10 days after contact.
- As to unvaccinated students, they will have to quarantine themselves for 10 days. And as for adults, after the 7th day, the quarantine can be lifted provided that negative self-tests are carried out daily until the 10th day after the high-risk contact. Ditto for preventive measures to be strictly applied.
- Those who have had a recent infection, less than 5 months, they should not perform a test or quarantine.
Students and adults who present symptoms must undergo a screening test and go to quarantine while waiting for the result.
Contacts within the household
For children under 12, the ONE states in its document that: “In view of the early stage of the vaccination campaign for children, it was decided not to hold account of the immunization status of the child “. The authorities have decided that when one of the members of the household is in isolation or in quarantine (because they are positive for Covid-19), the child will have to follow the rules in force for the least vaccinated adult. Ase underlined the Evening in its edition of this Thursday, the vaccination status of an adult in the family therefore has consequences on children’s access to school:
- If all adults in the household are fully vaccinated, quarantine is not mandatory for the child, but a self-test is recommended after the 10th day (end of the isolation of the index case). A 20-day vigilance period is also requested and in the event of symptoms, the child should perform a test with a health professional.
- In the event that adults in the same household have a different vaccination status, the child or children refer to the rules applicable to the least vaccinated adult. In other words, if one of the two adults is not vaccinated, the children must respect a quarantine of 10 days with a self-test recommended on the 10th day. A 20-day vigilance period is also requested. A rule that will have to be followed “regardless of the positive person in the household (parent, child, brother, sister, …)“, the document states.
For children who have had a recent infection, less than 5 months, they should not perform a test or quarantine.
Children over 12, must respect the measures planned for the general population. In other words, it will depend on vaccination status or recent infection i.e. less than 5 months.
Case management in schools
When a positive Covid-19 case is detected, he or his guardian is contacted by the contact monitoring center in order to identify, in particular, high-risk cases which will have to, depending on the vaccination status, undergo a quarantine.
The contact follow-up center will then contact the School Health Promotion Service (PSE) of the school concerned. School administrators will then be able to warn parents of a positive case in the classroom in order to set up surveillance, but also protection of vulnerable people in the children’s entourage. The ONE document specifies that : “when a field situation requires it, the teamsPES teams can take action neitherwithout waiting notification of the call center (especially when the threshold is reached for the emergency brake)“.
It is the PSE which will decide on the complete closure of a class in the fundamental (more than 4 positive cases).