Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommends relaxed approach to pandemic safety practices in schools. Quarantines are no longer recommended for people exposed to covid in schools, who instead are encouraged to follow broader community guidance to wear a well-fitting mask and get tested. The changes come as a third academic year opens amid the pandemic, with an extremely contagious variant, BA. 5, circulating. The new schools guidance eliminates a previous suggestion for test-to-stay programs, which allowed close contacts of an infected person to avoid quarantine if they had no symptoms and continued to test negative. With quarantines eliminated, it was no longer necessary, officials said. The guidelines do not change a major flash point: masking, which has been widely ignored in large parts of the country.
Parents could decide to test more, but schools may not be able to do so indefinitely, experts say. Vaculation filtration and air disinfection are key to preventing the spread of covid and other respiratory infections, they say. The risk is clear, one expert says, but it's not realistic to expect the schools to test indefinitely. For some experts, the most glaring issue is that schools have simply stopped masking.