Wednesday, the Alabama Department of Public Health (ADPH) announced that they are advising K-12 school students, faculty and staff to follow the newly updated isolation guidance from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).

On the evening of Jan. 4, the CDC clarified a question posed by the ADPH and other states that the shortened COVID-19 isolation applied to K-12 schools.  Now, the ADPH is advising that a child, teacher, or staff member who tested positive for the coronavirus or was exposed to the coronavirus can return to school in just five days’ time if they are not experiencing any symptoms and if they will wear a mask for at least five days after returning to school.

The previous recommendation was for everyone to quarantine for up to 10 days following a positive coronavirus test. The CDC has lowered that to just five days and seven days for healthcare workers. It is hoped that the shorter quarantine times will help schools, hospitals, and businesses to continue to operate even while millions of Americans are battling the new Omicron strain of the coronavirus.

The ADPH says it expects the CDC to formally update additional guidance for COVID-19 prevention in K-12 schools. The ADPH will provide this information when it is available.

The ADPH is emphasizing that it is critical that people continue to wear well-fitting masks and take additional precautions for five days after leaving isolation or quarantine. In addition, isolation should only end if a person has been fever-free for at least 24 hours without the use of fever-reducing medication, such as Tylenol/acetaminophen, and other symptoms have resolved.

The ADPH continues to recommend that everyone wear a mask and receive all recommended vaccination and booster doses as well as to continue social distancing, screening, testing and improved ventilation in order to prevent COVID-19 and decrease the transmission of the coronavirus.

Children over the age of two and adults are also advised to wear a well-fitting mask when around others at home and in public after five days of quarantine or isolation. If unable to wear a mask around others, the CDC recommends continued isolation for 10 days.

District Medical Officer Dr. Wes Stubblefield said, "As pediatricians, we understand the extreme stress this pandemic is placing on families. Our best medical advice is for parents to vaccinate their age-eligible children in order to protect their children's health and keep kids in school.”

The issue of the new guidance and schools was posed to Alabama Public Health Officer Dr. Scott Harris at a press briefing on Tuesday. 

Some 932,250 Alabamians have been infected by the coronavirus, SARS-CoV-2, including 37,049 in the last week. The ADPH reports that 9,315 Alabamians died from COVID-19 in 2021, 7,537 died from COVID in 2020, and the ADPH confirmed one COVID-19 death in 2022.

Some school systems nationally have closed and gone back to online learning this week.

To learn more about the latest CDC guidance: https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/if-you-are-sick/quarantine-isolation-background.html

To learn more about COVID-19 visit ADPH’s website: www.alabamapublichealth.gov.

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