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Arkansas schools see changes to COVID-19 guidelines

The Arkansas Department of Education released new guidelines for schools regarding positive COVID-19 cases, including quarantine and isolation times for students.

LITTLE ROCK, Arkansas — The Arkansas Department of Education has released new guidelines for schools regarding positive COVID-19 cases.

The changes are based off new CDC guidance that was issued earlier this week.

Arkansas schools have been back in session for the spring semester for one week and in that time span 42 districts have had to make virtual modifications.

Some of these pivots were also due to weather, along with COVID-19.

The Arkansas Department of Education updated isolation times in their new guidelines for people that test positive for the virus.

A person should stay home for a least 5 days if they get COVID-19. 

From that point, if you start to feel better after 5 days with no fever or symptoms then you may return to school.

You are also encouraged to wear a mask consistently for 5 more days when you go back to school, but Arkansas does not have a mask mandate, so it's up to the school to decide whether they're necessary.

Credit: KTHV

Another important thing to note is that quarantine is different from isolation.

A person will be asked to quarantine when they are exposed to someone with COVID.

You're also asked to quarantine for 5 days if you're not up-to-date on your COVID shots, but you don't need to quarantine if you've had all your vaccines, including a booster if you're eligible.

Also, you don't need to quarantine if you had COVID in the past 90 days.

"Reducing the number of days that someone has to quarantine from 10 to 5 based on the criteria that are met, we think will be a benefit to schools because there's staff who are not showing symptoms who have met all these guidelines who could return to school quicker than if they had to quarantine for the whole 10 days," said Kimberly Mundell with the Arkansas Department of Education.

Something else that's different this year -- how schools pivot to virtual learning.

The state no longer has a special emergency order in effect, so schools have to go back to using their AMI days when they go virtual, or they can shut down and make up the days later in the year.

"Districts can modify if they need to modify a class, a grade level, or a classroom. They can quickly modify to virtual instruction if they need to, but if it's going to be a school-wide or a district-wide modification they have to use one of their ten alternative methods of instruction," said Mundell.

Last year for the fall semester, 411 schools made virtual modifications. This year during the first half of the academic year, there were 54.

To look at the update ADE COVID-19 guidelines, you can click here.


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