University School of Milwaukee works closely with a team of medical advisors and regularly reviews ongoing guidance from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP), Wisconsin's Department of Health Services (DHS), and the North Shore Health Department (NSHD). In addition, the school regularly consults with other area health departments as needed, as it serves students from nearly 60 different ZIP codes in Southeastern Wisconsin. USM also consults regularly with several respected pediatric physicians who have school ties.
The exact steps taken by USM with any confirmed or suspected cases of COVID-19 in our school community will vary and be determined on a case-by-case basis, but below is information about what families can expect in the event of positive COVID-19 cases in our community. Please pay special attention to the K–12 school exemption information in the Quarantine section below; this is one of many important reasons that USM has made the decision to start the school year with everyone wearing face masks, as it should limit the number of contract-tracing quarantine situations that would require students to stay home.
Any student, faculty, or staff member who tests positive for COVID-19, whether they are symptomatic or not, must isolate for 10 days. Their isolation period ends when they have completed the 10 days of isolation, all symptoms have improved, and they have had no fever for at least 24 hours without the use of fever-reducing medications such as ibuprofen, acetaminophen, or naproxen.
USM follows the CDC guidance for quarantine requirements based on an individual's vaccination status:
- If an individual is not fully vaccinated, quarantine is required after close contact with an individual who has tested positive for COVID-19 (see below for quarantine timeline details). The individual needs to follow current quarantine guidelines, as indicated in the Quarantine Timeline Options section below. The individual must also wear a face mask in public indoor settings and self-monitor for 14 days.
- If an individual is fully vaccinated (at least two weeks after the second dose, when two doses are required), and is also asymptomatic, no quarantine is required after close contact with an individual who has tested positive for COVID-19.
There is an exemption from quarantine for indoor classroom settings. If an individual, while wearing a well-fitted face mask, was determined to be in close contact (3 to 6 feet for 15 or more total minutes) of another individual who has tested positive for COVID-19 and was also wearing a well-fitted face mask, the first individual does not need to quarantine and can continue to come to school, but must wear a face mask for 14 days and monitor for possible COVID-19 symptoms. This individual also does not have to test for COVID-19 unless otherwise directed to do so by the health department or a medical professional.
If a student, faculty, or staff member has one or more of the following symptoms, that individual should stay home:
- Trouble breathing
- Symptoms of a cold, such as sore throat, congestion, and/or runny nose
- Muscle pain
- Loss of taste or smell
- Nausea or vomiting
Your doctor will determine if your child needs to be tested and whether or not to come in for the testing. It is possible that your child may be ill with a different virus, but only COVID-19 testing will confirm this. A laboratory test analysis is the only test that is accepted at school. A letter from the doctor is necessary for return to school if COVID-19 testing is not required by the physician.
USM will also share its current data on the number of individuals in isolation and quarantine by division, for students, as well as for the school’s faculty/staff daycare children, and all staff. This will be published at the end of each school day on the main COVID-19 section page.
If a USM student is found to have been in close contact (defined as 15 or more minutes within 6 feet or less in any 24-hour period) with an individual who we have been notified has received a positive COVID-19 test, someone from the USM Nurse Clinic will attempt to contact that family by phone and/or email, and a hard-copy letter will also be sent to the family.
The science of the COVID-19 incubation period (2–14 days) has not changed; therefore, individuals must still observe themselves for 14 days despite the shortened 7- and 10-day quarantine options.
Families—in consultation with USM's Nurse Clinic, their local health department, and/or their physician or another medical professional—will be able to follow either of the 7- or 10-day quarantine options, depending on their situation, and this decision (or any changes to it) must be communicated to the USM nurse clinic. In certain situations, it is possible that USM may choose to make the decision to still require a longer (14-day individual or 24-day family) quarantine, again following CDC guidance and the recommendations of the school’s medical team.