The top public health agency in the U.S. recently altered its guidance regarding COVID-19.
Officials with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention announced on Aug. 11 it was dropping the recommendation that individuals quarantine themselves if they are in close contact with an individual who tests positive for the coronavirus.
In addition, they said individuals no longer need to maintain the suggested “social distancing” of 6 feet apart for each other.
Until the new guidelines were announced, CDC officials had recommended individuals not up to date on their COVID-19 vaccinations who came in contact with a person who tested positive needed to be in quarantine for at least five days. Despite ending the quarantine recommendation, CDC officials said an individual should wear a high-quality mask for 10 days and get tested in five days.
These changes come more than 2 1/2 years after the start of the pandemic. Officials said the changes are being instituted due to an estimate of 95% of Americans 16 years of age and older have acquired some level of immunity from either being vaccinated or infected.
“The current conditions of this pandemic are very different from those of the last two years,” said Greta Massetti from the CDC and an author of the guidelines.
Among the changes is ending the recommendation of schools to perform routine daily testing of students. School officials may continue to test daily during a surge in infections.
CDC officials also dropped a “test-to-stay” recommendation that stated students exposed to COVID-19 could test to remain in school instead of quarantining at home.
Individuals who do test positive for COVID-19 are asked to quarantine from others for at least five days regardless of their vaccination status. Individuals may end their quarantine if they are fever-free for 24 hours without the use of medication and are without symptoms or have an improvement in their symptoms.
Pendleton County Schools officials followed the suggested guidelines from state officials before the beginning of the 2021-22 school year. They released a statement requesting staff members or students to remain at home if they are exhibiting symptoms. Face masks or coverings were required for staff members and students when the county was labeled as orange or red on the West Virginia Department of Health and Human Resources coronavirus map.
PCS officials altered their decision regarding face masks and coverings later in the school year. They required a face mask or covering always be worn by staff and students during the day except for students in pre-kindergarten to second grade.
They reverted to their previous guidelines in mid-February. The face masks or covering requirement went into effect when the county was listed as orange or red on the WVDHHR coronavirus dashboard.
PCS has not released a statement regarding new guidelines for the 2022/23 school year.