Update to MSDH K-12 school guidance, new home test option for schools

The Mississippi Department of Health has recently updated the Guidance for Prevention and Control of COVID-19 in K-12 settings based on updated CDC guidance.  See the update at MSDH K-12 Public Health Guidance-Updated-JAN182022.

In addition to a continued recommendation strongly encouraging all students, faculty, and staff to wear a mask while at school regardless of vaccination status, MSDH recommends that schools adopt the new CDC shortened isolation guidance for COVID-19 infected individuals and shortened quarantine guidance for COVID-19 exposed individuals.

Per the CDC guidance, infected individuals should isolate at home with exclusion from the school setting for 5 days, and then, if symptoms improved and fever free, may return to school with strict mask adherence for an additional 5 days.  Also per the CDC guidance, COVID-19 exposed individuals should quarantine at home for 5 days, but may return after to school after 5 days if they remain asymptomatic and adhere to strict mask use for an additional 5 days.  Testing at day 5 of the quarantine period is recommended.  The most recent CDC Guidance in K-12 settings, as well as updated isolation and quarantine guidance, can be found at these links

Guidance for COVID-19 Prevention in K-12 Schools | CDC; Overview of COVID-19 Isolation for K-12 Schools | COVID-19 | CDC; Guidance for COVID-19 Prevention in K-12 Schools | CDC

Additionally, MSDH recommends all individuals eligible for COVID vaccination become vaccinated and stay up to date with their vaccines.  All K-12 schools should continue to submit weekly reports of COVID cases and individuals on quarantine through survey monkey.

To facilitate testing at day 5 of the quarantine period for exposed individuals prior to a return to the school setting, MSDH will provide home test kits to interested schools.  These home test kits can be sent home with students and school employees who have been exposed to COVID in the school setting (see CDC guidelines for the definition of exposure to COVID-19, which includes vaccination status).  Testing at day 5 of the quarantine period prior to a return to the school setting is another layer of protection and can lead to identifying cases prior to transmission occurring at the school.  Schools can determine if they would like to participate in this program and recommend a negative test for quarantined students and teachers prior to a return to school.  This voluntary program will provide home tests to schools through Feb. 15, 2022.

A negative test prior to return to school after 5 days of isolation for infected individuals is not recommended by MSDH; this should be based on time and improvement of symptoms.

If a school wants to receive home test kits to utilize for students and teachers on home quarantine prior to return to school, please send your request to the following email address: COVIDschoolreporting@msdh.ms.gov. The following information must be submitted with your request:

  • School name, address, and shipping address
  • School point of contact and contact information
  • Total number of students
  • Total number of all teachers, faculty, and school employees

Please allow 3-7 business days to receive your kits.

Additionally the school will be asked to report the number of test kits sent home each week to https://www.surveymonkey.com/r/QNYGCQK, along with the number of remaining test kits.  No protected health information will be required for this report.