By Megan Wehring
School districts and cities implemented protocols after health officials released new quarantine and isolation guidelines.
On Dec. 27, 2021, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) shortened the recommended isolation time for the public. People who test positive for COVID-19 should isolate for five days and if they are asymptomatic or their symptoms are resolving without a fever for 24 hours, they should follow that with five days of wearing a mask when around others.
The CDC also updated the recommended quarantine period for anyone who is exposed to someone with COVID-19. Those who have received their booster, completed the primary series of Pfizer or Moderna vaccine within the last six months or completed the primary series of the Johnson & Johnson vaccine should wear a mask around others for 10 days and test on day five if possible. If symptoms start to develop, get a test and stay home.
People who have completed the first series of Pfizer or Moderna over six months ago, completed the first series of J&J over two months ago, have not been boosted or have not received any of the vaccines should stay home for five days and after that, continue to wear a mask around others for five more days. If quarantine is not possible, wear a mask for 10 days and test on day five if possible.
“The Omicron variant is spreading quickly and has the potential to impact all facets of our society,” said Dr. Rochelle Walensky, CDC director. “[The] CDC’s updated recommendations for isolation and quarantine balance what we know about the spread of the virus and the protection provided by vaccination and booster doses. These updates ensure people can safely continue their daily lives. Prevention is our best option: get vaccinated, get boosted, wear a mask in public indoor settings in areas of substantial and high community transmission, and take a test before you gather.”
Prior to the return of students, Hays CISD sent an email letter to the district community Jan. 3 explaining new protocols and precautions. The district is installing air purifiers in all classrooms and other areas on campuses to help neutralize viruses like COVID-19 and the flu but to also reduce other airborne contaminants.
HCISD is following the CDC’s recommended isolation protocols.
“The isolation period has been reduced from 10 days for people who test positive for COVID to five days,” said Tim Savoy, chief communications officer, in the district’s letter, “if they are asymptomatic, fever-free for 24 hours and wear a mask for an additional five days while around others. People who meet the criteria to end isolation after five days but who do not wish to wear a mask, or are unable to do so for the next five days, must remain home and away from school for the full 10-day isolation period.”
Students who are out of school with a positive COVID test result, or for close-contact isolation, no longer need to login daily for remote conferencing, according to HCISD.
“This was something the state had required for attendance counting purposes,” Savoy said in the letter. “Since it is no longer necessary, and was burdensome on students and teachers; the district will no longer offer it. Instead, COVID-related absences will be managed as would any other absence for illness. Students can access assignments directly from their teachers to make up missing work. Secondary students can access their assignments in Schoology and elementary students will be able to get assignments in hard copy, or by other means at the teacher’s discretion.”
HCISD said the community should prepare for a “bit of an uncertain January” and to continue keeping one word in mind as the Omicron variant continues to unfold: grace.
Dripping Springs ISD
Students, staff and visitors at Dripping Springs ISD (DSISD) who have symptoms of COVID-19 are required to stay home. People who are confirmed to have COVID-19 or are showing symptoms need to be isolated regardless of their vaccination status.
Parents should report to the school nurse if their student tests positive, according to DSISD’s health protocols. The student is required to isolate and may return to school by checking in through the nurse’s office when the following criteria are met: At least 24 hours have passed with no fever, symptoms have improved and at least 10 days have passed since symptoms first appeared (or since testing positive if asymptomatic).
Staff members will not be permitted to be at work and will be required to use personal or local leave for absences if they test positive, according to the district’s protocols.
Staff can return to work when:
• If symptomatic, at least five days have passed since symptom onset, and fever free, and other symptoms have improved
• For those with no symptoms, at least five days have passed since the day they tested positive
• DSISD strongly recommends staff wear a mask for an additional five days after their return to work per CDC guidance.
Local cities respond
The cities of Kyle, Buda and Dripping Springs, along with Hays County, all recommend residents follow the CDC guidelines regarding COVID-19 protocols and precautions.
For more information, please visit the following websites.
Dripping Springs: https://www.cityofdrippingsprings.com/emergency-management/pages/covid-19-information
Hays County: https://hayscountytx.com/covid-19-information-for-hays-county-residents/