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Tennessee students deserve high-quality education opportunities in a safe environment. In the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, ensuring that our students, school faculty, and staff stay safe is crucial. There are several actions that parents, students, and school leaders can take to ensure students remain in the classroom and have a safe learning environment.
Vaccination remains the most effective tool we have in the fight against COVID-19. Vaccination is safe and effective for preventing COVID-19 in individuals age 12 and up. Vaccinated individuals are exempt from quarantine as long as they are not showing symptoms and are wearing a mask for at least 14 days following exposure. The Pfizer vaccine is approved for individuals ages 12 and above. Find available vaccine appointments here.
Masks also help prevent the spread of COVID-19. Because unvaccinated people are most at risk for becoming infected and spreading COVID-19, it is especially important for those individuals to wear a mask to protect themselves and others. Although vaccinated people are less likely to become infected or to spread COVID-19, infection and spread are still possible, so it is important for vaccinated people to wear a mask as well. This is especially true in areas where community spread is high and in higher risk environments like classrooms or buses with many individuals.
Promote Other Mitigation Strategies
Multiple protection measures are necessary to limit the spread of COVID-19. It is also important to practice other mitigation strategies like social distancing, cohorting consistent small groups together, good airflow, and frequent hand hygiene and disinfection. Practicing these mitigation strategies will reduce infections and the likelihood that you need to isolate or quarantine.
Stay Home When Sick
Anyone with symptoms should not go to school, be around other people, or be out in public. Isolation is for people who are already sick or infected with COVID-19. Those individuals must remain at home and away from other people for at least 10 days after symptoms began or a positive test was obtained.
Know When To Quarantine
Quarantine is for people exposed to a contagious disease so that they do not spread the disease to others. Quarantine means staying home and away from other people if you are exposed. COVID-19 can spread before there are symptoms by people who were in contact with COVID-19. If you are within 6 feet of an individual with COVID-19 for more than 15 minutes over a 24 hour period, you should quarantine for 14 days following the last contact with an infected individual. This can be shortened to 7 days if you have no symptoms and a negative test after 5 days. Quarantine exceptions are:
A helpful quarantine and isolation calendar can be found here.
More information and detailed examples of quarantine and isolation can be found here.
Stay Up-to-Date on Childhood Immunizations
While the focus has been on fighting COVID-19, it’s important to remember that maintaining routine appointments with your child’s doctor will help your child stay healthy and possibly identify any underlying health conditions that may make your child more vulnerable to COVID-19. It is essential not to lose sight of the other steps we can take to protect ourselves, our loved ones, and others in the community against preventable diseases.
If you aren’t sure if your child is missing some of their routine immunizations, call your child’s medical provider or your local health department to check on the status. If your child is behind, schedule an appointment with your child’s doctor or your local health department NOW to make sure your child is fully protected. Find more information on required childhood immunizations here.