Public school teachers in Georgia who test positive for Covid-19 no longer need to isolate before returning to school
Georgia Governor Brian Kemp and Georgia Public Health Commissioner Kathleen Toomey released a letter on Thursday, Jan. 6, saying that school employees do not have to quarantine after being exposed to or testing positive for Covid-19, regardless of vaccination status, as long as they are asymptomatic and wear a mask while in school.
“Students, parents, and teachers 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,” reads the letter from the governor.
The Georgia Department of Public Health (DPH) announced the loosening quarantine and contact tracing requirements in the midst of one of the largest Covid surges, with the U.S. surpassing records for both hospitalizations related to Covid-19 and amount of reported new cases.
“Like you, our chief goal is to keep our kids in the classroom with minimal disruption to their education, and we will continue to support you, your faculty, your students, and your parents in carrying out this mission,” the letter continues before diving into testing specifics.
It is worth noting that the governor says his office’s “chief goal” is to “keep our kids in the classroom with minimal disruption to their education,” as opposed to, you know, keeping staff and students safe from a life-threatening virus that is more transmissible than ever thanks to the Omicron variant. The order does say that local school districts can still create and follow their own quarantine and isolation requirements, but with confusing and unclear policies, parents are having trouble knowing what they need to be doing in order to keep their kids safe while attending school.
Parents are understandably upset and voicing their frustration with the state’s new policies, which appear to be the opposite of the “common sense health and safety measures” touted in the letter. Others are pointing out that while they understand the need for kids to stay in school so parents can work, this is only going to hurt communities already disproportionately affected by the pandemic.
Others commented on Governor Kemp’s tweet thread, sharing their disgust for the state’s policies. “Money has become more important than our lives! Our lives matter!!” said one. “Your lack of leadership and inaction has led to thousands of Georgians needlessly dying. You chose business and politics over health and safety,” replied another.
Teachers and other school staff are also voicing their disappointment with the announcement, saying that they weren’t part of the conversation.
On Jan. 9, three days after Governor Kemp released the order, the Georgia DPH reported 17,397 confirmed cases, 13 deaths, and 397 hospitalizations for Covid-19.
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