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Less stringent CDC guidance will mean quicker return to school for Peoria County students and teachers

A nurse tests a student for COVID-19 at Brandeis Elementary School in Louisville, Ky.
Jon Cherry
Getty Images
The CDC has released new, less stringent recommendations for students and school employees, citing data showing that the majority of coronavirus transmission “occurs early in the course of illness.”

Peoria County students and teachers who test positive for COVID-19 now will be able to return to school much more quickly.

Regional Superintendent of Schools Beth Crider said school districts are going to adhere to the latest guidelines from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reducing the number of days in isolation from 10 to five.

Crider said she joined local health officials in a statewide online meeting Monday morning, followed by a call with Peoria County superintendents and administrators.

“We were told that we should move forward with the new guidelines, which includes a five-day isolation or quarantine period, depending on your symptoms. So we are moving forward with the new CDC recommendations,” she said.

“Of course, all of these are recommendations. But all schools in Peoria County were encouraged to adopt the recommendations. There are some caveats in sports and some other things that might require a longer period.”

On Thursday, the CDC released its new, less stringent recommendations for students and school employees, citing data showing that the majority of coronavirus transmission “occurs early in the course of illness.”

Originally, Illinois public schools were advised to follow a 10-day isolation period. However, the State Board of Education announced Friday it would align its guidance with the CDC.

Crider said districts should still follow best practices and stressed that anyone who feels sick should stay home.

“I think that we do need to be very, very careful about still following our mitigation,” she said. “So even if someone is out for five days, we were told on our superintendents’ call today that if you come back into school, you still need to ‘mask aggressively’ was the wording that was used, and that when you are eating — which means your mask would be off — you need to ensure that those students who have been out have 6-foot social distancing around them.”

During Thursday’s weekly COVID-19 health briefing, Peoria City/County Health Department Administrator Monica Hendrickson said schools provide “a protective factor,” educationally, socially, and even nutritionally.

“There’s a lot of reasons why having kids in school is very important, so we don’t take any of the steps lightly to either go into what’s known as adaptive pause or remote learning,” said Hendrickson. “A lot of that has to do with what we’re seeing in that individual school setting.”

Hendrickson said community events appear to be more responsible for spreading COVID-19 among school-age kids than the classrooms.

“No one takes this lightly. This is an ongoing conversation that we have routinely, so they understand what’s going on and what’s impacting it. Sometimes it’s not what’s happening in their schools; it’s what’s happening in the outside community that’s really driving it.”

WCBU reporter Hannah Alani contributed to this report.

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Contact Joe at jdeacon@ilstu.edu.