Over the last few weeks, we have seen an increased number of COVID-19 cases in adults and children due to the Delta variant, which is more contagious. Our goal for the 2021-2022 school year is to keep children learning in person. Virtual learning is inferior to in-person learning and changes must be made to our school policies regarding COVID-19 if we plan to keep our children in school. To do this in a safe manner, the Winston County Board of Health has the following recommendations to the school systems in our area.
We strongly recommend following Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) guidelines in regards to vaccination, masking, quarantine and social distance practices.
We recommend all students at least 12 years old, teachers and staff be vaccinated as soon as possible. This is currently the leading health prevention strategy.
We recommend that all students wear a mask indoors during school. We know that masks are not prefect in preventing transmission, but they do reduce the spread of COVID-19.
We recommend contact tracing and quarantine guidelines to be followed appropriately. If fully vaccinated and asymptomatic, students and staff do not have to quarantine unless they develop symptoms. If not fully vaccinated, students should quarantine for 14 days after exposure at home or at school. There is an option to shorten quarantine to 10 days; however exposed individuals must wear a mask and stay 6 feet from others students and staff.
We recommend practicing social distancing when possible in school. Examples of ways to social distance in schools, include separating desks 3 feet apart while children wear masks, skipping a seat in the lunchroom and keeping small groups of students together throughout the day for activities.
When all guidelines are followed, there are multiple layers of protection from COVID-19, and this gives our students the best chance to continue learning in person. If school systems fail to follow these guidelines, COVID-19 will spread rampantly and eliminate the option of learning in person for the rest of the year. Again, our goal for the 2021-2022 school year is to keep children learning in person in the safest way possible. The Winston County Board of Health strongly recommends our surrounding school systems follow these policies.
Dr. Brooke Goar M.D.
Dr. Andrea Batchelor M.D.
Dr. Ramesh Reddy M.D.
Dr. Boyde J. Harrison M.D.
Dr. Vanessa Ragland D.O.
Dr. Amy Traylor M.D.
See complete story in the Northwest Alabamian.