RPS announces changes to contact tracing program

(ABC 6 News) – Rochester Public Schools said Friday it is ending contract tracing for all K-12 students, and instead shifting its efforts to focus on PreK students because they are not yet eligible to receive a COVID-19 vaccine.

In an update sent to families, the district said "Rochester Public Schools has been working diligently over the past several years to mitigate the spread of COVID-19 in our schools. Over the past three weeks, we have been collecting data on our contact tracing process. That data demonstrates that contact tracing is no longer feasible for K-12 programming due to the volume of cases and time spent on each case."

The full update reads:

RPS will shift our resources to continue to contact trace in our PreK programming because those students are ineligible for vaccination at this time. Families at all levels will still continue to receive written notification when the building threshold level of 5 positive cases per week is met. We will notify families in increments of 5 (i.e. 5, 10, 15, etc.). At the elementary school level, we will also notify parents when there is a positive case in their child’s classroom. Messaging this information at the secondary level is not feasible or sustainable since a student is in multiple periods a day with multiple peers.

Contact tracing will cease on Friday, February 11 for grades and programs K-12. If your child was placed in quarantine prior to Friday, they may return on Monday as long as they are symptom free. We strongly recommend testing before they return, tests are available to you from your school (see more below). For household close contact exposure, quarantine remains best mitigation practice and one that is required for students or staff that are unvaccinated and have been in close contact with someone whom they live with who is confirmed positive. For example, if a child is positive and they have siblings who are unvaccinated in their home, those siblings are required to quarantine.

Testing will continue to be a key mitigation effort available to families. Students are eligible to pick up Zoom-enabled at-home saliva test kits for surveillance testing. This means any asymptomatic student and staff member can test weekly to monitor whether or not they have COVID. Your child’s school will have more information on when they may receive and return saliva test kits. Another form of testing available to students and staff are the rapid, at-home test kits for symptomatic students. If your child is exhibiting COVID symptoms, or is being sent home from school with COVID symptoms, your child is eligible for an at-home rapid test kit. If the test returns negative, and symptoms are improving, the individuals may return to school. The district will implement Test to Stay (TTS) plan at our PreK level, where students who have been identified as a close contact but are asymptomatic are eligible to test to stay in school. Since contact tracing and quarantine is discontinued at the elementary and secondary levels, TTS is no longer necessary. TTS efforts will be focused on early childhood (PreK) where close contact determination and quarantine will continue until students under the age of 5 have the opportunity to be vaccinated for COVID-19.

Students that have tested positive are required to isolate for 10 days, returning to school on day 11.

The Safe and Open Schools Plan will further expand on these details.


Kent Pekel, Ed.D.
Interim Superintendent of Schools