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Leon County Schools considers shortening quarantine period for teachers exposed to COVID-19

Posted at 6:25 PM, Aug 26, 2020
and last updated 2020-08-26 18:48:02-04

TALLAHASSEE, Fla. (WTXL) — Leon County Schools is hashing out final details about what happens when teachers are exposed to the virus but haven't tested positive.

The district says teachers who test positive will be required to quarantine right away, but, there's a gap between those who are exposed and have symptoms but who haven't tested positive yet.

Board leaders are considering making the quarantine just three days.

LCS Superintendent Rocky Hanna, along with other board members, is pushing to bring it down from what was originally two weeks in quarantine.

"The CDC is saying you can go here and we're saying well how about let's go here," said Hanna. "Let's do three days, 72 hours. The test is 99 percent reliable and then if you're negative, you come back with peace of mind, and you're only out 72 hours as opposed to 14."

Those teachers would be able to work from home and still be paid.

LCS art teacher Jessica Barthle says while that might sound good on paper it's not considerate to the needs in the classroom.

Barthle says the rules should be the same between teachers and students exposed. Currently, students are required to quarantine for 14 days.

"We need to follow CDC guidelines," Barthle said. "It doesn't matter that teachers are listed as essential from the White House. We still are people. Just like the rest of the essential workers we still deal with the same concerns and health issues that students and their families do."

To date, 81 employees of LCS have been exposed to COVID-19. Of that, 65 have been cleared to return to work, 16 are still under quarantine, and only 15 tested positive.

Now, the decision is awaiting the 'OK' from health leaders.

"It seems like we're okay with the three days," said Rosanne Wood. If the medical advisor's team signs off on that we're good to go."

The time between exposure and having symptoms and testing positive is tricky too. CDC shows that can take up to two weeks just to show up if the individual is symptomatic.