The Alabama Department of Public Health changed its guidance for schools this week on contact tracing and who to send home if a student exhibits symptoms that could be associated with the coronavirus.

Schools of Guntersville Supt. Brett Stanton said it should result in more students getting to stay in class when someone just exhibits symptoms but has not yet tested positive. It comes at a particularly good time for Guntersville High School.

GHS returned to 4-days a week of traditional school for most of the student body this week. They had been doing 2 days a week and remote learning the rest of the time.

“This is a move in the right direction,” Supt. Stanton said. “Previously, there were a handful of symptoms you had to be mindful of regarding contact tracing. Now, we are only looking at a couple, loss of taste or smell.”

Previously, schools have been told to send home close contacts of people with any COVID-19 symptoms, a close contact being defined as someone within 6 feet for more than 15 minutes.

The language defining a close contact has not changed, but now those close contacts will only be sent home if the person they were near has the 2 aforementioned symptoms or if the person tested positive for coronavirus.

“We were hoping they would allow the use of masks to negate the 6/15 rule, but that has not been lifted at this point,” Supt. Stanton said.

The Schools of Guntersville immediately put the new guidance in their coronavirus protocol as soon as it was issued by the state.

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