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Schools K-12

The Alabama Department of Public Health (ADPH) K-12 school page addresses the need for schools, local health departments, and healthcare providers to work together to support the goal of all students returning to school safely during the COVID-19 pandemic.

To ensure that ADPH county health departments are providing consistent and up-to-date information to local schools, this page provides resources and forms necessary for reporting.

Guidance for Institutions of Higher Education was updated on May 27, 2022, and can be found on the CDC Website.

What's New?

Monitoring & Reporting COVID-19 in Schools

  • School nurses should continue to report school COVID-19 outbreaks and outbreaks of any kind using the Communicable Disease Report Card and selecting Outbreak as the Reportable Disease/Health Condition.
  • The online COVID-19 case report card should only be used to report individual COVID-19 cases. School nurses no longer need to report these to public health unless they personally administer or proctor a COVID-19 test.
  • For COVID-19 outbreaks use the following definition:
    • 10% absenteeism across the entire school due to COVID-19
      3 or more lab-confirmed cases within a core group (which includes but is not limited to an extracurricular activity, cohort group, classroom, before/after school care, etc.) having positive test results within 14 days of each other

**Please remember this applies only to COVID-19 and not to other communicable diseases.

Updated CDC Guidance

Screening Testing to Promptly Identify Cases, Clusters, and Outbreaks

School testing gives communities, schools, and families added assurance that schools can open and remain open safely for all students. By identifying infections early, before symptoms appear, testing helps keep COVID-19 transmission low and students in school for in-person learning, sports, and extracurricular activities. The UAB School of Public Health is currently collaborating with the Alabama Department of Public Health and the Alabama State Department of Education to offer voluntary asymptomatic COVID-19 testing in Alabama K-12 schools to students, faculty, and staff. For more information, please contact the Program’s Director Angela Sullivan, Ph.D., at or visit COVID Testing in Alabama K12 Schools.


Frequently Asked Questions from Parents

If your child develops symptoms after being exposed to a person with COVID-19, the child should isolate for 5 days and if symptoms have resolved and the child has been fever free for 24 hours without fever-reducing medications, the child can return to the classroom on day six. Have your child evaluated by your healthcare provider if they are immunocompromised, suffer from severe symptoms, or if symptoms persist.
Follow the advice of your healthcare provider, as guidance depends on the clinical situation. In general, if your child has been exposed to COVID-19, and has symptoms but has a negative test, it is still safer for your child to isolate for five days, be fever free for 24 hours without fever medication, and have improving symptoms before returning to school wearing a mask.
ADPH has received questions from providers for guidance for doctors' offices on the use of results from testing performed within the home using home test kits to allow a return or continuation of children in schools. ADPH will not be providing a form for the purposes of allowing students to return to the classroom based on the results of a home COVID-19 tests. We do not recommend that the home test kits be utilized for this purpose.
Persons who have had COVID-19 disease can still be reinfected a few months or later after disease, especially with the emergence of variants. COVID-19 vaccine further strengthens the immune response and helps the immune system fight off infection and keeps people from severe disease and out of hospitals.
Day zero is the day the person tests positive or first has COVID-19 symptoms and day 1 is the first day after the beginning of symptoms or, if asymptomatic, the specimen was collected.

It is very important that persons who have COVID-19 isolate for a minimum of 5 days away from members of their household, use a separate bathroom, not prepare food, use disposable utensils, and wear a well-fitting mask if they have to go into common areas of the house. After this 5 days, persons should still do all they can to reduce contact for the remaining five days, including continuing to wear a mask, even in the house.

Persons exposed to COVID-19 in a household should be tested 5 days after exposure, even without symptoms. If persons exposed to COVID-19 in a household become symptomatic, they should be tested as soon as practical. If contact with the infected person cannot be broken (separate bedroom, living quarters, bathroom, consistent and correct mask wearing), contacts should consider their exposure to be longer and continue to wear their masks when out in public for 10 days after the last exposure, starting on Day 6 after the infected person’s symptoms began or positive test.

See information about ongoing household exposure. Contacts should monitor for symptoms, be tested on day 5 after exposure, even without symptoms, and wear their masks when out in public for 10 days after exposure. If the contact develops symptoms at any time after exposure, the contact should be tested as soon as possible.
When persons who have had COVID-19 return to school after 5 days of isolation, they should still wear well-fitting masks and keep their hands clean. During lunch and snack, persons should remove their masks only when eating, sanitize their hands, and resume wearing their masks after eating. Sanitizing hands before removing masks, prior to putting masks back on, and after putting masks back on are important measures to further reduce any potential transmission of the virus. Persons who are contacts to cases should follow the same recommendations for mask wearing and hand sanitizing.
When community levels of COVID 19 are high, CDC and ADPH recommend school-wide masking for all students, teachers, and staff to reduce transmission of COVID-19. Persons returning from COVID-19 shortened isolation must wear masks for 10 days after the onset of symptoms and/or positive test or last exposure to a case. Contacts of cases should monitor for symptoms, be tested on day 5 after exposure, even without symptoms, and wear their masks when out in public for 10 days after exposure. If the contact develops symptoms at any time after exposure, the contact should be tested as soon as possible.
A lot of discussion about types of masks is ongoing, especially with the more transmissible Omicron variant. N-95 masks remain the most effective mask at reducing transmission of respiratory droplets. However, N-95 still needs to be properly fitted, and not all persons can comfortably wear N-95 for extended periods of time. Other options are K-N95 which are similar but have different industry standards for filtration. Surgical masks are a very good option due to layers and better filtering. Fit can be improved by wearing a cloth mask over it. CDC has not changed mask guidance, at this time, and continues to allow a well fitted mask of tightly woven breathable material, such as cotton fabric, consistently and correctly worn over the nose and mouth. For additional information, visit Your Guide to Masks | CDC.
For the purposes of boosters and adherence to quarantine, CDC has stated that, when persons receive the booster dose, they are considered to have been boosted that same day. CDC data that tracked Pfizer vaccine trial participants for 100 days after their boosters suggests that positive effects of the shot may start as soon as seven days after getting boosted.
With the emergence of Omicron, the incubation period for COVID-19 appears to be shorter, around 3-5 days after exposure, but at least a third of people may remain contagious up to 10 days. This is why CDC recommends mask use for 10 days, even with shortened isolation or quarantine. Keep in mind that immunosuppressed persons may shed virus longer and should follow longer isolation. See Ending Isolation and Precautions for People with COVID-19: Interim Guidance.
Many studies and information about hospitalizations indicate that vaccinated and boosted persons are less likely to have severe illness, be hospitalized, and die from COVID-19. Among other benefits of the vaccine, having your child vaccinated against COVID-19 reduces the risk of your child developing COVID-19 by 90%.
COVID-19 is more contagious and deadly than influenza in children. While it is uncommon for children to die from either influenza or COVID-19, during this past year, no child in Alabama died from influenza, while, at least 16 children in Alabama have died of COVID-19 since the start of the pandemic COVID-19, especially the Omicron variant, can cause severe disease in children. In the second week of January, over 60 children are hospitalized with COVID-19 in Alabama. At least 129 children in Alabama have developed Multisystem Inflammatory Syndrome of Childhood (MIS-C). a severe illness requiring hospitalization. It is important to reduce the risk of children developing communicable diseases, including influenza and COVID-19, as previously healthy children can become very ill, require hospitalizations, and die from both these illnesses.
No one wants to spread illness to others and cause people to be sick. As with other communicable diseases, there are certain measures that need to be taken to prevent others from catching the illness. Information to reduce COVID-19 disease is provided to keep all people as safe as possible from being sick.
If an athlete has moderate to severe COVID-19 illness, it is very important to consult with the athlete’s healthcare provider prior to return to play. While athletes can follow the five-day isolation, shorter isolation is for persons who are asymptomatic or mildly symptomatic and improving by the fifth day of illness. Shortened isolation requires that all persons, including athletes, continue to consistently and correctly mask for 10 days after onset of symptoms and/or positive test.

Page last updated: August 19, 2022