According to a press release from Lufkin ISD, the district's COVID-19 Planning Committee, along with campus principals, recently reevaluated the COVID-19 protocols and have made some updates concerning quarantining and tests required to return to school.

 These new guidelines specify the following: 

"If a person is exposed to infectious secretions or has been within six feet for 15 minutes cumulative within 24 hours of someone who is COVID positive and they are not wearing a mask, they are considered an exposure."

Consequently, when masks are worn properly, they may be considered a mitigating factor that will not require the exposed person to quarantine.

Assistant Superintendent of Administrative Services Dr. Daniel Spikes met last week with the COVID-19 Planning Committee to propose some updates to the current plan. On that committee is The Children’s Clinic Pediatrician Dr. Jeff Glass. LISD has also been in communication with the local health department.

“From our observation and discussion with others, we are not seeing much evidence that students who are in close contact (within 6 feet) and wearing masks properly in schools, are contracting the virus while being quarantined,” Spikes said.

“We felt the need to adjust these protocols so that students who are exposed, but wearing masks properly, may be able to continue their studies in the classroom,” said Spikes.

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These updates are in line with what other school districts in the area and throughout the state are doing and are also supported by our local health department.

According to the TEA Guidance for Schools, close contact is being within 6 feet for a largely uninterrupted or sustained extended contact period throughout the course of a day of approximately 15 minutes; however, additional factors like case/contact masking (i.e., both the infectious individual and the potential close contact have been consistently and properly masked), ventilation, presence of dividers, and case symptomology may affect this determination.

Other updates that the committee approved are for symptomatic students and staff to return to school, a negative PCR test is required or two negative antigen tests that are administered greater than 24 hours apart.

“If exhibiting symptoms related to COVID-19, we encourage our students and staff to take the PCR test in order to return to the school/work. This test is the standard for reliability. If the PCR test is not given, we are requiring two antigen tests administered more than 24 hours apart. These protocols are put into place to ensure that our staff and students are safe and not exposed to the virus,” Spikes said.

“We also want to remind parents that if a student is exposed to the virus, they will be quarantined for 14 days. This time period is recommended by the CDC because the optimal incubation period is two weeks. We have heard of cases where on days 10 to 14 the individual tested positive after being exposed. Please encourage your student to wear their masks properly, use good hand washing hygiene, and where possible, social distance,” said Spikes.

“We will continue to re-evaluate our protocols and make adjustments as necessary. Our priority is providing a safe learning environment for our students and staff,” said Spikes.