ADPH toolkit updates masking, quarantine guidance as students head back to class

Published: Aug. 5, 2021 at 7:59 AM CDT
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HUNTSVILLE, Ala. (WAFF) - Several school districts in the Tennessee Valley went back to school this week, and more will follow next week.

Although many students are excited, others are nervous about heading back during a pandemic with delta variant cases continuing to rise. The pandemic has impacted teachers, students, and everyone in the community.

Just this week, the Alabama Department of Public Health announced its newly revised toolkit. This is updated guidance for schools addressing masks, quarantining, and more.

Dr. Michael Sibley with the Alabama Department of Education said the department encourages the vaccine to anyone who can get it.

“We are encouraging everyone who can to get vaccinated,” Dr. Sibley said. “We’ve heard strong words from our Governor and others encouraging people to get vaccinated those who can do so. In a way that is not medically a problem for them.”

For requiring masking while in schools, Dr. Sibley said that’s up to the individual districts.

“We absolutely encourage local systems to make that decision for themselves,” Dr. Sibley said. “They have the autonomy and the authority to make that decision for themselves. Local systems know what is happening on the ground in that area, and they know what to do to best serve the students in their communities.”

In ADPH’s “Back to School Guidance 2021-2022,” one of the big things the document said is to require masks and social distancing to open schools safely. If these guidelines are followed, no quarantine is required when a student has been exposed.

”We are going into the school year many people with a certain amount of trepidation, I know from my emails and my phone calls, they are an indication that people are very concerned and they should be,” Dr. Sibley said. “Our children are our greatest investment, they are everything we have and we absolutely want what is in their best interest. More than anything I think parents and teachers and school leaders can go into this school year with a sense of optimism though.”

Dr. Sibley said the one thing about COVID-19 is there’s a lot of unknown.

“The one thing we know about COVID-19 is we do not know everything about COVID-19. It continues to change and morph and we will adjust and be as nimble as necessary to both give our students a good education and make sure their health and wellness is a priority,” he said.

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