While pandemic protocols like “two weeks to flatten the COVID-19 curve” and the following mask and vaccine mandates are pretty much in the rearview mirror for most Florida residents, businesses and institutions, the virus is still circulating and sickening people.
The Centers for Disease Control (CDC) continues to monitor the presence of COVID-19, and as it does institutions like Hillsborough County Public Schools are looking to the agency for ongoing guidance to set policies and inform families and students who have questions.
“The district continues to communicate CDC guidelines if and when a parent seeks guidance from our student health professionals,” said Hillsborough County Public Schools Chief of Chief of Communications Tanya Arja.
Arja added that a doctor is the best person to determine a student’s health status, and a basic guideline is that feeling unwell is a sign to stay home and not stress too much over out-of-class time.
“We let parents know that they should follow the instructions from their doctor, which is typically to isolate for five days. Overall, if students and staff do not feel well, they should stay home. Our staff works with parents on make-up assignments that were missed due to illness.”
Participation in one district education program that may involve stricter COVID-19 rules regarding masking and vaccinations is the EMT training program operated out of Aparicio-Levy Technical College. Students working with the program’s clinical partners are generally required to follow their masking and vaccine requirements.
Free COVID-19 tests are available from the CDC by visiting www.covidtests.gov, where you can also find additional information about the current state of the disease and recommended precautions. According to the agency’s website, each home in the country can order four at-home tests at no charge. If the household has not requested any tests so far in 2023, a total of eight tests can be ordered.
The CDC states on its website that if you know you have been exposed to COVID-19, you should wait at least five days before taking a test. The CDC also suggests testing might be appropriate before visiting someone, such as an older or chronically ill person, or attending some social gatherings.
As for how the virus may affect things like operating schools in Hillsborough County, Arja said, “The health and wellbeing of our students and staff is a priority for the district.”
The CDC’s www.vaccines.gov website provides information about getting vaccinated.