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CDC Changes COVID Isolation Recommendation

woman wearing a mask speaking to another woman

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) updated the guidance for individuals who test positive for COVID-19 and no longer recommend an isolation period of five days.

The new recommendations for COVID-19 align with recommendations for flu, RSV, and other common respiratory viruses. When an individual gets sick with COVID or a respiratory virus, the updated guidance recommends they stay home and away from others. An individual may return to normal activities when, for at least 24 hours, symptoms are improving overall, and if a fever was present, it has been gone without the use of a fever-reducing medication.

Once people resume normal activities, they’re encouraged to take additional prevention strategies for the next five days to curb disease spread, such as enhancing hygiene practices, wearing a well-fitting mask, keeping a distance from others, and/or getting tested for respiratory viruses.

Additional information regarding recommendations can be found in the CDC press release dated March 1, 2024.

Local Procedures

State agencies, including the Texas Education Agency (TEA), Higher Education Coordinating Board, and Texas Department of Health and Human Services, defer to CDC guidelines. Organizations may wish to check with the local health department or authority to determine if specific recommendations for their area are in place.

At the organizational level, isolation practices are no longer needed. Entities may update local procedures to align Policy DBB(LOCAL) and eliminate isolation requirements. Any entity offering paid leave for COVID isolation could move to eliminate this benefit.

Quarantine Leave for Peace Officers

Organizations with police departments need to review their administrative procedures for quarantine leave for peace officers and decide if adjustments are needed to align with the updated CDC guidelines.

Quarantine leave applies if a peace officer is ordered to isolate or quarantine because of a possible or known exposure to a communicable disease while on duty. During the leave, a peace officer is entitled to all employment benefits and compensation, including leave accrual and other benefits, for the officer’s regular job assignment. The person’s sick leave, vacation leave, holiday leave, or other paid leave balance in connection with paid quarantine leave can’t be reduced.

Procedures should be in writing and communicated to officers and supervisors and should clearly state who is authorized to order an officer to quarantine or isolate, such as the supervisor (e.g., chief of police or superintendent) or local health authority (e.g., county health department). The definition of a health authority doesn’t include all physicians, only those who have been appointed under Texas Health and Safety Code Chapter 121.

Additional details to include in administrative procedures can be found in the Framework for Developing Leaves and Absences Procedures for districts and Framework for Developing Leaves and Absences Procedures for colleges in the HR Services Resource Library (member login required).

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April Mabry
April Mabry
TASB HR Services Assistant Director

April Mabry oversees HR Services training services, member library products, and the HRX newsletter. She has provided HR training and guidance to Texas public schools  since 1991. Mabry was a classroom teacher for 11 years in Texas and Michigan.

Mabry has a bachelor’s degree in education from the University of Michigan and certification as a professional in human resources (PHR) and is a SHRM-CP.

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