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MSDH sets COVID-19 guidelines for upcoming school year

As we get closer to the 2021-22 school year, the Mississippi State Department of Health has released its updated guidance for K-12 schools across the state—consistent with CDC guidelines.

Most notably, the MSDH’s updated guidelines state that fully vaccinated teachers, students and staff do not have to wear a mask while indoors. They also do not have quarantine or be excluded from the school setting if they’ve been exposed to COVID-19—unless they end up testing positive. 

It’s recommended by the MSDH that unvaccinated individuals continue to wear a mask while indoors, but Governor Tate Reeves recently stated he would not mandate masks in schools this fall.

The MSDH guidelines also state that schools should maintain at least three feet of physical distance between students within classrooms, combined with indoor mask wearing by people who are not fully vaccinated, to reduce transmission risk.

The full set of guidelines can be seen below: 

  • All eligible students, teachers, and staff 12 years of age and older should receive COVID-19 vaccination.
  • Masks should be worn indoors in school settings by all individuals (age 2 and older) who are not fully vaccinated.
  • Schools should maintain at least three feet of physical distance between students within classrooms, combined with indoor mask wearing by people who are not fully vaccinated, to reduce transmission risk.
  • Routine screening testing of asymptomatic unvaccinated students, teachers and staff is recommended as an additional measure to prevent further transmission.
  • Schools should continue to isolate COVID-19 infected students, teachers, and staff and continue contact tracing to identify exposed individuals for quarantine and exclusion from the school setting.
  • All students, teachers and staff who have symptoms of any infectious illness, regardless of vaccination status, should stay home from school and be evaluated by their healthcare provider.
  • As a reminder, fully vaccinated students, teachers and staff:
    • Do not have to wear a mask when indoors;
    • Do not have to quarantine or be excluded from the school setting if they have COVID-19 exposure; and
    • Do not have to be tested unless symptomatic.

MSDH has developed a School Based Testing Initiative to facilitate onsite screening testing for all unvaccinated asymptomatic students, teachers and staff (information available at School-Based COVID-19 Testing Initiative – Mississippi State Department of Health (ms.gov)

MSDH has also developed an Adopt-a-school Vaccination Program, working in partnership with schools and providers, to facilitate onsite COVID-19 vaccinations for all eligible students, teachers and staff. Visit https://msdh.ms.gov/AdoptASchool for additional details.

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