MONTGOMERY, Ala. (WSFA) - The Alabama Department of Public Health released an 85-page toolkit advising school leaders on how to mitigate the spread of the coronavirus in school buildings.
“There are going to be thousands of kids who are going to be positive on the first day of school,” said State Health Officer Dr. Scott Harris.
The document said if someone begins showing COVID-19 symptoms in schools, ADPH wants that person to immediately be isolated and be sent home. Officials want there to be a designated isolation room in the school for students showing symptoms.
The toolkit also said a school nurse will then help find out who those symptomatic people have been in contact with. The close contacts will be isolated and sent home until COVID-19 is confirmed or other diagnosis is confirmed.
ADPH encouraged schools to have seating charts for school buses and inside classrooms. That seating chart would then be sent to ADPH to help contact trace.
“We need the students to stay as static as possible throughout the day,” said Johna Cotton with ADPH.
An Alabama State Nurses Association Spokesperson Dr. John Ziegler said they support all reasonable efforts to make schools safe.
“The DPH Toolkit is well done and easy to understand,” Ziegler said. “Our concern is that it will not be easy to implement because we don’t have enough school nurses and many schools do not have adequate clinical space for evaluation and triage of people who may need to be sent home.”
The Alabama Education Association President Sherry Tucker said she does not feel it is enough to assure all students and educators feel safe returning to school.
“With children returning to school as soon as Aug. 6, I believe information from the toolkit is long overdue,” Tucker said. “Moving forward, AEA will be advocating to ensure every school building is staffed with a school nurse and funding provided by the CARES Act is used properly to guarantee all safety measures contained in the ADPH toolkit are put in place.”
State Superintendent Dr. Eric Mackey said he was not available to talk Tuesday.