CDC, NYSDOH update COVID-19 guidelines as school starts

UTICA — The federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the New York State Department of Health have relaxed their COVID-19 guidelines for unvaccinated individuals and for schools as the 2022–23 school year starts. 

According to an announcement on Friday from the Oneida County Health Department, the county has decided to adopt the relaxed guidelines.

The changes to the guidelines for schools in the county include:

  • The requirement for unvaccinated individuals to quarantine after being exposed to COVID-19 has been removed. Unvaccinated individuals are advised to wear a mask, monitor for symptoms and to take a test; 
  • Schools are no longer required to have a test-to-stay policy, which allowed students who were exposed to take a COVID test and remain in school only with continued negative test results;
  • The recommendation to keep students in a pod/cohort in schools has been removed;
  • The recommendation for students to quarantine, except in high-risk congregate settings, has been removed;
  • The requirement for schools to report COVID-19 cases to report card has been eliminated.  

Katie Mungari, deputy director for the Oneida County Department of Health, emphasized that schools are still monitoring for COVID-19 and still have measures in place in case of an outbreak. 

“They don’t have as strict guidance as they used to, that doesn’t mean that there’s not protections in place,” she said. “I think that’s important to remember, that schools are still taking precautions, it’s just not mandated anymore.”  

Similarly to previous years, the Oneida County health department is expecting an increase in COVID-19 cases as school starts and as cooler weather moves into the county. 

“We don’t expect that COVID has gone away. We know that COVID is a part of our daily life now and we have tools to help fight it, we have vaccines, we have treatments; it’s something that we all need to do to protect our community and our families,” Mungari said. 

In addition to the county guidelines, the CDC and the state Department of Health advise that any person who is exposed to COVID-19 should wear a mask when in public or around others for 10 days following the exposure. CDC recommends testing on day five or if symptoms develop. If any person is experiencing symptoms of COVID-19, that person should isolate immediately and test. If the test is negative, the person no longer needs to isolate. If the test is positive, the person should isolate for at least five days.

Isolation guidelines remain unchanged. Those testing positive, must isolate for five days. Release of isolation happens when the ill person is no longer experiencing a fever in the past 24 hours and symptoms are improving. Immunocompromised persons or those who have severe illness from the COVID-19 infection, may consider isolating through 10 days and should consult their medical provider. “COVID-19 is here to stay,” said Daniel W. Gilmore, PH.D., MPH, Director of Health. “Everyone needs to know the risks and understand how to protect themselves and others around them. There are many tools now available including vaccination and treatments. Everyone should remember to do the things to help protect us from illness. Stay home if you are sick, wash your hands and stay up to date with vaccinations.”