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Dallas ISD Shortens Isolation Period for Staff Who Test Positive for COVID

Education

Kids in class wearing masks. | Image from Prostock-Studio

Dallas Independent School District announced a change to its COVID safety measures on Monday morning.

According to DISD’s new guidelines, district employees who test positive for the virus will be allowed to return to the campus after five days. The previous requirement was ten days. This change in policy is based upon the CDC’s recent adjustment of the recommended quarantine period.

The president of the American Federation of Teachers (Alliance-AFT) union, Rena Honea, has expressed concern about the change, as she feels five days is not sufficient time to recover from the illness. “It is a little bit concerning,” she said, per a CBS 11 News report, “because we do have staff members that are much sicker than others, and five days is just not enough.”

Though the CDC announced a shortened isolation period, the Texas Education Agency (TEA) still recommends infected students stay at home for ten days, based on public health guidance issued on Friday.

However, the public health guidance follows the Texas Department of State Health Services’ rule for teachers and staff, allowing them to return after five days if they are asymptomatic or if their symptoms are improving.

Honea told CBS 11 News that she fears the change could force teachers take unpaid leave if they need additional days to recover before coming back to work. “It’s very disconcerting that they could possibly be penalized, or they may have to make a decision: do I continue doing this work if I’m still really sick?” she said.

Dr. Seth Kaplan, the most recent past president of the Texas Pediatric Society, told The Dallas Morning News that the CDC’s new isolation guidelines are not black-and-white, explaining they differ for vaccinated individuals or those who are willing to wear a mask.

“If you test negative on day five and you’re willing to wear a mask, then returning seems reasonable,” Kaplan said to The DMN.

In their update posted to the Dallas ISD News Hub, the district stated, “We are continuing to monitor the data to determine if adjustments to protocols need to be made. As always, the well-being of students and staff remains our top priority, and we appreciate everyone’s help to keep us all safe.”

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