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Agua Fria takes cue from CDC, updates COVID guidelines with looser quarantine option

Isolation may now end early if no fever for 24 hours and “symptoms are resolving”

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Agua Fria Union High School District has updated its COVID-19 protocols, adding a less stringent isolation option for students who have been exposed to or tested positive for COVID. 

“Our protocols remain in place,” the district stated in an announcement posted Thursday.  “However, the Center (sic) for Disease Control (CDC) has recently updated isolation and quarantine recommendations for the public. As such, Agua Fria Union High School District has modified our Covid-19 Protocols."

Students may now return to school after following five days of isolation, provided they wear a mask to school for an additional five days. 

“Students who do not adhere to the mask requirement must complete the quarantine/isolation at home,” the district stated in the announcement. 

The new guidelines were initially unclear about the standards students must meet before returning to campus early. 

Two guidelines were laid out; one for the general student population, and one for student athletes, which appeared to have separate standards. 

The protocols initially stated that non-athletes may return to school early if they are asymptomatic. Student athletes, however, could return to school “if they have not had a fever for 24 (hours) and symptoms are resolving,” the protocols stated.  

A district spokesperson clarified in an email to the Independent Friday that all students can return to campus provided they have not had a fever for 24 hours and their symptoms are resolving. 

The spokesperson stated that the guidelines would be corrected “to make sure both documents are aligned.” 

Student athletes must still be cleared by a medical provider before participating in sports. They are allowed to remove their masks when participating in a drill, scrimmage or game, “but it must go on immediately once the athlete is removed,” the new protocols stated. 

Previously, if a student was exposed to or tested positive for COVID, they would need to quarantine for 10 days. Quarantine could end early on the sixth day only if students were asymptomatic and received a negative test result after five full days since exposure. 

Going forward, parents will have the option to choose between the initial quarantine guidelines and the updated guidelines released Thursday. 

Quarantine is still not required for students who are fully vaccinated.  The district ended the week with 182 active COVID cases across five campuses and one district site. 

The district last updated its COVID-19 guidelines Aug. 19, 2021. 

CDC rebuked following release of looser COVID guidelines

The Centers for Disease Control has been criticized for its new COVID-19 guidelines released Dec. 27, which shorten the recommended isolation time from 10 days to five days and do not recommend testing before ending isolation.    

“The change is motivated by science demonstrating that the majority of (COVID-19) transmission occurs early in the course of illness,” the CDC stated. “These updated recommendations also facilitate individual social and well-being needs, return to work, and maintenance of critical infrastructure.”

Public health experts have criticized the new guidelines. Dr. Gerald  Harmon, president of The American Medical Association, called the updates “confusing” and “counterproductive.”

“Nearly two years into this pandemic, with Omicron cases surging across the country, the American people should be able to count on the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention,” Harmon said in a statment. 

“Instead, the new recommendations on quarantine and isolation are not only confusing, but are risking further spread of the virus.”

Click here to view Agua Fria's new  COVID guidelines. 

Madeline Ackley can be reached at mackley@iniusa.org or found on Twitter @Mkayackley.

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