Category J: Students
Procedure J1: Communicable Diseases
The District recognizes that a variety of communicable diseases may afflict students—ranging from common childhood diseases which are acute and short-term in nature, to chronic, life-threatening diseases. By law, the District is required to provide educational services to all school age children who reside within its boundaries, but admission to school may be denied to any child diagnosed as having a disease whereby attendance could be harmful to the welfare of other students and staff (with the exception of cases legally defined as “handicapped” whereby the District is responsible to respond accordingly). Consistent with MGL Chapter 71, Section 55 “A child infected, or in a household where a person is infected, with a disease dangerous to the public health … or in a household exposed to contagion from any such disease in another household, shall not attend any public school while he is so infected or remains in a household where such infection or exposure exists if the regulations of the board of health require such exclusion.”
Management of common communicable diseases shall be in accordance with Massachusetts Department of Health guidelines. As required by law, the District will report all cases of communicable diseases to the Amherst Health Department and/or Massachusetts Department of Public Health as appropriate.
The District’s response shall also include the following:
- If a student presents with a communicable disease while at school, the parent/guardian will be notified. They will be advised to contact their health care provider.
- A notification letter along with a public health fact sheet will be sent home to students and others in close contact with the student, as determined by the school nurse or designee. This letter will include information about the disease’s symptoms and treatment.
- Depending on the disease, classroom members or close contacts may also be excluded from school on a temporary basis if risk of exposure is high, consistent with Massachusetts DPH guidelines.
- High risk individuals and others who may have had contact with the student will be referred to their health care provider as appropriate.
The educational placement of a student who is medically diagnosed as having a life-threatening communicable disease shall be determined on an individual basis in accordance with administrative procedures. Decisions about the proper educational placement shall be based on the student’s behavior, neurological development, and physical condition; the expected type of interaction with others in school setting; and the susceptibility to other diseases and the likelihood of presenting risks to others. A regular review of the placement decision shall be conducted to assess changes in the student’s physical condition, or based on new information or research that may warrant a change in a student’s placement.
A student returning to school after having been absent due to an infection or exposure shall be allowed to return if the danger of conveying the disease has passed, as confirmed by any of the following:
- Submission of a note from the student’s health care provider,
- Examination of school health professional,
- Submission of certificate from the board of health or its duly appointed agent.
In the event a student with a life-threatening communicable disease qualifies for services as a handicapped child under state and federal law, the procedures for determining the appropriate educational placement in the least restrictive environment shall be used in lieu of the procedures designated above.
Neither this policy nor the placement of a student in any particular program shall preclude the administration from taking any temporary actions including removal of a student from the classroom as deemed necessary to protect the health, safety, and welfare of the student, staff, and others.
In all proceedings related to this policy, the District shall respect the student’s right to privacy. Only those persons with a direct need to know shall be informed of the specific nature of the student’s condition. The determination of those who need to know shall be made by the Superintendent.