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Texas Education Agency updates COVID-19 quarantine protocols for school staff

The new rules come after updated guidance from the CDC that shortened the isolation period for those without symptoms.

AUSTIN, Texas — The Texas Education Agency (TEA) on Friday released updated COVID-19 quarantine guidance for school staff, as a surge of the omicron variant causes staffing issues for many local schools.

According to TEA protocols, Texas school staff who have tested positive for COVID-19 should return to work when:

  • If symptomatic, at least five days have passed since symptom onset, and fever-free, and other symptoms have improved.
  • For those with no symptoms, at least five days after the day they tested positive.

Fever-free means no fever for at least 24 hours without the use of fever-suppressing medications. Fever is a temperature of 100 degrees or higher.

The new rules come after updated guidance from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). The CDC says all those who test positive must also take precautions until day 10, including by wearing a well-fitted mask around others, avoiding travel and avoiding being around people who are high-risk.

The TEA said staff members who have been in close contact with someone who has tested positive for COVID-19 and are in one of the following groups, do not need to stay at home:

  • Ages 18 or older and have received all recommended vaccine doses, including boosters and additional primary shots for some immunocompromised people.
  • Was confirmed COVID-19 positive within the last 90 days and has fully recovered.

Others who have had close contact and do not meet the above criteria should stay off campus during the stay-at-home period, but the TEA said “this is a local employment policy decision” and up to school officials. If staff members do continue to work on campus, the TEA requires rapid testing to be done periodically for five days post-exposure, with testing on the fifth day recommended.

For students determined to be close contacts, the stay-at-home period can end for those experiencing no symptoms on day 10 after exposure, if no subsequent COVID-19 testing is performed. Alternately, students can end the stay-at-home period if they receive a negative result from a PCR test after the close contact exposure ends.

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