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Kemp, Toomey loosen guidelines on COVID in schools

COVID-19 quarantine and contact tracing guidelines will be relaxed in Georgia schools. Governor Brian Kemp and Public Health Commissioner Kathleen Toomey released a letter Thursday to school leaders that lays out new guidelines for quarantine and contact tracing as well as plans for expanded voluntary testing.

School employees may return to work after exposure to COVID-19, regardless of vaccination status, if their employer deems it necessary to ensure adequate staffing and as long as they wear a mask and remain asymptomatic. Contact tracing is now optional in schools, due to the increased challenge of conducting contact tracing as a result of the rising COVID-19 cases, the letter says. Reporting positive cases to DPH is still required.

The Georgia Department of Public Health is also offering an expanded COVID-19 testing program that allows for testing of symptomatic and asymptomatic students, staff, faculty, and their family members. The program is voluntary and will come at no cost to schools.

“Students, parents, & educators have made it clear that they want to be in the classroom, and we are looking into many methods to continue safe, in-person learning,” Kemp and Toomey wrote in their letter.

The announcement comes as some school districts switched to virtual learning this week and as the number of COVID-19 infections reach to record breaking highs. The state of Georgia reported 25,212 total PCR and antigen cases for January 5th, according to the Georgia Department of Public Health.

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