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Anchorage School District shortens isolation time for COVID-19 in response to updated CDC guidance

Published: Jan. 6, 2022 at 4:00 PM AKST
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ANCHORAGE, Alaska (KTUU) - In response to updated guidance from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the Anchorage School District has reduced its own requirement for how long students and staff must stay home from school following a positive COVID-19 case.

The CDC recently shortened its recommendations for the time people need to isolate after testing positive for COVID-19, and for those who need to quarantine following a close contact situation. The agency cut the isolation time in half from 10 days to five, and also cut the time for people who need to quarantine following a close contact from 10 days to five.

The CDC has said these changes lined up with evidence that people who test positive for COVID-19 are at their most infectious in the two days before, and the three days after their symptoms develop.

On Thursday, Alaska’s largest school district announced it was similarly updating its own rules for isolation following a positive COVID-19 case.

“For ASD, the amount of time to stay home if you test positive for COVID-19 has been reduced from 10 days to 5 days,” Superintendent Deena Bishop wrote in a letter to families.

If a student tests positive, the updated school district guidelines state that after five days, they “may return to school when you have not had a fever in 24 hours without fever reducing medicine, as long as your other symptoms are improving.”

Students may also return to school if they test negative for COVID-19 as long as they have not had a fever in the last 24 hours. If a student does not get a COVID-19 test, they must stay home for the full five days and can return after that period, as long as they have not had a fever in the last 24 hours.

More of the updated guidelines for students can be found on the district’s website.

In updating its guidance, the CDC clarified that the new isolation and quarantine times apply to kids in addition to adults. In its guidance for isolation in K-12 schools, the CDC states that “Students, teachers, and staff who test positive for COVID-19 and never develop symptoms should isolate for at least 5 days.”

“Day 0 is the day of the positive viral test (based on the date of testing) and day 1 is the first full day after the specimen was collected for the positive test,” the guidance continues.

People should continue wearing a well-fitting mask for the next five days following their isolation when in public or around others, the CDC says.

There are no other changes to the district’s COVID-19 mitigation plan at this time, according to the letter from Bishop.

The school district announced earlier this week that it will maintain in-person school for the time being as COVID-19 cases in Alaska continue to rise, but warned parents that it may close school if staffing levels fall below manageable levels.

The district has a mask requirement in place which Bishop had sought to end on Jan. 3, but it was extended by the Anchorage School Board through at least Jan. 15. Bishop said earlier this week that a decision on the mask requirement going forward will be made by Jan. 14.

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