Dr. Paul Byers, state epidemiologist, last week said the department would be releasing “Mississippi-specific” protocols to go with the school guidelines recently released by the Centers for Disease Control.
Byers said vaccination is “The key forward” for ensuring schools can safely operate in person in the 2021-22 school year.
The Mississippi Department of Health has also developed a testing initiative to facilitate onsite screening testing for COVID-19 for unvaccinated asymptomatic students, teachers and staff.
The department’s Adopt-a-school Vaccination Program is working to provide COVID-19 vaccinations for eligible children and adults in the school system.
The full list of recommendations are:
*All eligible students, teachers and staff 12 years and older should receive the COVID-19 vaccination.
*Masks should be worn indoors in school settings by all individuals (age 2 and older) who are not fully vaccinated.
*Schools should maintain at least 3 feet of physical distance between students within classrooms, combined with indoor mask wearing by people who are not fully vaccinated, to reduce transmission risk.
*Routine screening testing of asymptomatic unvaccinated students, teachers and staff is recommended as an additional measure to prevent further transmission.
*Schools should continue to isolate COVID-19 infected students, teachers, and staff and continue contact tracing to identify exposed individuals for quarantine and exclusion from the school setting.
*All students, teachers and staff who have symptoms of any infectious illness, regardless of vaccination status, should stay home from school and be evaluated by their healthcare provider.
*Fully vaccinated students, teachers and staff:
*Do not have to wear a mask when indoors;
*Do not have to quarantine or be excluded from the school setting if they have COVID-19 exposure; and
*Do not have to be tested unless symptomatic.