CDC provides updated COVID-19 guidance for schools

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention on Aug. 11 released updated COVID-19 guidance for schools, now emphasizing masking and testing over quarantines for exposed youth and staff.

The updates are closely aligned with the K-12 schools guidance released by the California Department of Public Health that local educational agencies are already following. This CDPH guidance has been in effect since July 1, 2022. LEAs should continue to follow that state-level guidance, especially if it is more restrictive than the CDC guidance. CSBA will provide more detail in the Aug. 17 California School News weekly update email, including how the CDPH and CDC guidance compare.

Similar to CDPH guidance, the CDC guidance requires that students and school staff who are exposed to the virus but remain asymptomatic should wear a high-quality mask for 10 days, and get tested on day five.

Because quarantine is no longer recommended for people who are exposed to COVID-19 except in certain high-risk congregate settings — of which K-12 schools and early childhood education centers are not a part — Test to Stay (TTS) is no longer recommended by CDC . If any school chooses to continue requiring quarantine, they may also choose to continue TTS.

The CDC no longer recommends routine screening testing in K-12 schools — previously used to identify students and staff with COVID-19 who do not have symptoms or known or suspected exposures — but officials may want to maintain this practice under certain circumstances, including:

  • Testing for students and staff for high-risk activities such as close contact sports, band, choir or theater
  • Before and after large events including prom, tournaments or group travel
  • When returning from holiday breaks or at the beginning of the school year

The CDC also removed the recommendation to cohort students, which called on schools to keep smaller groups of students together for most of the school day as a way to simplify contact tracing.

Additional detailed information on masking, managing cases and exposures, and responding to outbreaks is available in the update.