MONTGOMERY, Ala – When a student tests positive or begins showing symptoms of COVID-19, what should schools do next? Guidance was murky before.
But now, The Alabama Department of Public Health has a new and improved ‘Back to School Tool Kit’ for schools.
“Now that some schools have been open for a couple of weeks we certainly recognize that we need to issue some clarity on certain things and hopefully we have done that for you today,” said Dr. Scott Harris, State Health Officer.
The updated, 89-page tool kit released Monday, includes four new pages that cover student screening, when to report cases to the state, logging contact tracing and a parent check list with quarantine procedures.
One of the most notable changes has to do with identifying COVID-19 symptoms and what to do next.
Symptoms are divided into two categories, major and minor.
Minor symptoms include things like headaches, runny nose, and fever.
“I saw where headache, and sore throat, and myalgias, and again all these things can go along with influenzas. They can go along with strep throat you know they’re probably seen in about 10% or 12% of COVID-19 cases,” Landers said.
People with two minor symptoms are to be sent home to be medically assessed by their healthcare provider.
Major symptoms are identified as shortness of breath, new cough, and new loss of smell or taste.
“If you have new loss of taste or smell in children, younger children, you know middle school kids, whatever, and even high school kids, it’s so unusual, that I would say take that one to the bank they probably got COVID-19,” Landers said.
The tool kit says if a someone has just one major symptom, that person is go home, get medically evaluated, and close contacts will also have to be sent home. The schools are also to report this to ADPH. Close contacts should remain at home to quarantine until test results are known.
These are same procedures the schools are to follow if someone tests positive. The difference in this circumstance is that those who are considered a close contact of someone who tested positive are asked to stay home and quarantine for 14 days.