CDC updates COVID prevention guidelines for elementary and 12 schools

By John Bonifield, CNN

(CNN) – US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention updated its guide for the prevention of Covid-19 in K-12 schools on Thursday, as the recommendations are in line with the Agency’s recently updated Covid-19 guidelines for quarantine and isolation for the general public. It also extends its screening test recommendations and encourages canceling or becoming virtual with some leisure and sports activities to protect personal learning.

The new K-12 school recommendations state that children who have not been fully vaccinated and exposed to coronavirus should be quarantined for at least five days after their last close contact with a person who has Covid-19. Adults who have not been vaccinated against Covid-19 or who have not received a booster shot are advised to follow this recommendation as well.

Previously, the CDC K-12 guide recommended a 14-day home quarantine for people exposed to coronavirus who were not fully vaccinated.

The new K-12 recommendations state that students, teachers and staff with Covid-19 should stay home and isolate themselves away from others for at least five full days. Day 0 is considered the first day of symptoms or the day of a positive viral test for people who have no symptoms. People whose symptoms improve can leave isolation after five full days if they are fever-free for 24 hours. They should wear a mask around others for another five days.

Previously, the CDC K-12 Guide recommended at least a 10-day isolation period for people infected with the virus.

The agency also updated its screening test recommendation for primary schools.

“In K-12 schools, screening tests can help immediately identify and isolate cases, initiate quarantine, and identify clusters to help reduce the risk of personal training,” the new guide states.

Earlier, the K-12 recommendations said screening tests should be offered to students who have not been fully vaccinated when community transfer is at moderate, significant, or high levels. The guide now says that students should at least be offered screening tests. It includes an updated chart that recommends screening tests for all students at least once a week in communities with moderate to high transmission.

In addition, the new K-12 recommendations now recommend screening tests for all teachers and staff at least once a week. Previously, such screening was only recommended for teachers and staff who were not fully vaccinated.

Recommended screening tests for high-risk sports, such as football and wrestling, and high-risk activities outside of school, such as singing or banding, have also been updated. In previous guidance, screening was recommended at least once a week for participants who were not fully vaccinated and twice a week in areas with significant coronavirus transmission. According to an updated chart in the recommendations, these screenings now include all participants, regardless of vaccination status.

In high-transmission areas, schools are now advised to cancel or hold high-risk sports and leisure activities virtually to protect personal learning; Previous guidance did not recommend cancellations or virtual events in high-transmission areas if all participants were fully vaccinated. Currently, the CDC says, more than 98% of counties have high Covid-19 transmission.

In areas with moderate to high transmission, previous guidance on low- and medium-risk sports had also recommended screening participants who were not fully vaccinated once a week. That recommendation now covers all participants, regardless of vaccination status.

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