Alabama Department of Public Health recommends masks, distancing in K-12 schools

October 02 2021 06:00 pm

MONTGOMERY, Ala. (WHNT/WIAT) — The Alabama Department of Public Health has updated its recommendations for K-12 schools as students begin to return.

Following the latest CDC guidance, the Alabama Department of Public Health is recommending school administrators implement universal masking, at least three feet of spacing between desks, and vaccinate students and staff where and when possible.

ADPH also reminded administrators that everybody has to wear masks on school buses, both public and private schools, per a CDC order requiring masks on all public transit.

By Alabama law, COVID-19 cases must be reported to ADPH and the guidance said individuals who test positive or are diagnosed with COVID-19 must stay home for 10 days, be symptom and fever-free for 24 hours, and feel better before returning to school.

As a reminder, symptoms of COVID-19 include:

  • Fever or chills
  • Cough
  • Shortness of breath or difficulty breathing
  • Fatigue
  • Muscle or body aches
  • Headache
  • New loss of taste or smell
  • Sort throat
  • Congestion or runny nose
  • Nausea or vomiting
  • Diarhea

If anybody is showing these symptoms, ADPH said they need immediate medical care:

  • Trouble breathing
  • Presistent pain or pressure in the chest
  • New confusion
  • Inability to wake up or stay awake
  • Pale, gray, or blue-colored skin, lips, or nails

Monday marked another pandemic school year for Norwood Elementary, as Birmingham City Schools went back to the classroom.

“I have Lysol in my car so when I get in the car I’m going to go ahead and spray her down,” parent Latina Stoves said. “I would rather for the children to be remote because you don’t really know what’s going on in the school. You’re not around your child so you don’t know.”  

Other families want their kids in school, staying in the habit of masking up and encouraging vaccines for those who are eligible.

“I care a lot about my kid, and I’m not going to play with my kid’s life, I’m not going to play with my life or my wife’s,” parent Adam Woods said. “It’s going to be the saddest thing if you are the parent that did not get vaccinated and you gave it to your child.”  

Assistant State Health Officer Dr. Karen Landers said this comes as hospitalizations have increased by the hundreds, with a COVID positivity rate over 20 percent.

“Frankly we don’t normally have that many children in the ICU, but that is a very significant concern of mine,” Landers said. “We haven’t lost a child yet in Alabama in the school age group, but I’m very concerned that could happen.”

Landers is worried about not enough resources or ICU beds to take care of kids if they get sick. She said even if people started getting vaccinated now and all wore masks, it would still take weeks to get numbers down because there is significant community spread right now.

For ADPH’s full list of school recommendations, click here.

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