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AUSTIN — As millions of Texas students return to campus for their spring semesters, the Texas Education Agency issued updated guidance Friday on how schools should best address COVID-19 and the highly contagious omicron variant among teachers and staff.

New guidance allows teachers and staff who have tested positive with COVID-19 but are without symptoms to return to school five days after receiving a positive result. Symptomatic staff may return to work five days after symptom onset if other symptoms have improved and they remain fever free for at least 24 hours, officials said.

Meanwhile, teachers and staff who are in close contact with a positive individual but have received all vaccines including a booster or were confirmed positive within the last 90 days and fully recovered do not need to stay home, it said.

Should a staff member not meet those two requirements, the TEA recommends that staff remain off-campus, but it is ultimately up to the local employer, officials added. If the staff member continues to be on-campus, it is recommended they be tested periodically through day five.

TEA officials said the changes are a result of updated guidance from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention announced in December.

“CDC’s updated recommendations for isolation and quarantine balance what we know about the spread of the virus and the protection provided by vaccination and booster doses,” said CDC Director Dr. Rochelle Walensky in a statement. “These updates ensure people can safely continue their daily lives.”

At this time, there have been no updates to student quarantine guidelines. Districts and schools still are required to notify all impacted teachers, staff and parents should a positive case be reported. Masks remain optional and school systems must allow individuals to wear a mask if they choose to do so.

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