Georgia public school teachers who test positive for the virus that causes Covid-19 no longer have to isolate before returning to school, according to a letter from Gov. Brian Kemp and Public Health Commissioner Kathleen Toomey to school leaders that was released Thursday.
The Georgia Department of Public Health on Wednesday had posted an updated administrative order for isolation and quarantine allowing teachers and school staff to return to work after a Covid-19 exposure or a positive coronavirus test, regardless of vaccination status, as long as they remain asymptomatic and wear a mask while at work.
“Students, parents, and educators have made it clear to us that they want to be in the classroom, and we are looking into many methods to continue safe, in-person learning — including updated quarantine and isolation protocols, reduced contact tracing requirements, and augmented testing opportunities,” the letter from Kemp and Toomey says.
Local school districts may still develop and follow their own quarantine and isolation requirements, according to the order.
Reporting positive Covid-19 cases to the state health department is still required, but contact tracing will no longer be mandatory in schools, according to the updated agency order.
“We know that contact tracing has become more challenging as cases have increased in schools and throughout the community,” the letter says. “While contact tracing is a ‘Best Practice’, particularly for high-risk individuals, we understand that this may not always be possible in all cases and so can be considered as an optional service in schools at this time.”
As of Thursday, the seven-day average of new Covid-19 cases in Georgia was 16,072, according to data from Johns Hopkins University. This time last year the seven-day average of new Covid-19 cases in the state was 8,442, the data shows.
CNN has reached out to the Georgia Association of Educators for comment on the updated order.
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