City, state health officials remain concerned about groups in schools despite guidance change


Courtesy: Huntsville City Schools

MADISON COUNTY, Ala. – According to State Health Department numbers, Madison County is maintaining one of the lowest case rates in the state. But Wednesday, local health professionals said they remain concerned about inevitable large gatherings.

“So, schools, nursing homes, assisted living, and those types of arrangements where they they identify a case, they may do surveillance testing, and then work to mitigate the risk but that’s that’s the point of concern for the ADPH officials that we talked with today,” explained Dr. Pam Hudson, CEO of Crestwood Medical Center.

But while Hudson said ADPH is concerned about schools among other large settings, the department of public health updated its schools toolkit Wednesday to allow some kids to stay in school even after they come in contact with someone showing symptoms of the virus.

Hudson said its not an easy change for any of the parties involved.

“How do you balance the responsibility of parents to not send kids to school sick with their responsibility to be great parents and make sure their children are in school,” said Hudson. “I can tell you that the schools probably wrestle with that.”

Now only students who have come in contact with a student or teacher who has lost their sense of taste or smell will be sent home to quarantine.

Unless that person tests positive then everyone they’ve been in contact with will go home.

“Every case is different and and so as the guidance comes out, knowledgeable people are trying to implement the guidance and not everyone will be happy with the decisions. And, and it’s just it is a work in progress.

ADPH issued a statement to News 19 Wednesday evening

The Alabama Department of Public Health (ADPH) follows CDC guidance for isolation of cases of COVID 19 and home quarantine of close contacts of cases.  Persons diagnosed with COVID 19 need to isolate for 10 full days after onset of symptoms.  Persons identified as close contacts of COVID 19 need to home quarantine for 14 full days after last contact with a case of COVID 19.

Students, teachers, or school staff members with symptoms of cough or shortness of breath or loss of taste or smell  or other symptoms of illness, need be evaluated by their healthcare provider to determine whether they have COVID 19 or an alternative diagnosis.  As new loss of taste or smell is considered clinically  diagnostic of COVID 19 in this current pandemic, close contacts of persons with this symptom complex need to consider themselves exposed to COVID 19 and home quarantine as directed.

The change in the toolkit represented an update where close contacts of persons with symptoms, other than persons with new loss of taste or smell, are not sent home until the person with symptoms has an evaluation by their healthcare provider for diagnostic purposes.

Dr. Karen Landers, ADPH

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