Trump Admin Wants Teachers Exposed To COVID-19 to Stay In Classroom; No Quarantining

As schools across the country reopen, administrators are making decisions about just how much students, teachers, and staff can safely be on-campus, what level of interaction to allow, and about what to do when there’s an outbreak. Guidelines to prevent spread typically require someone who has tested positive for the virus to self-quarantine for a period of time. Those who have been exposed may be asked to self-quarantine, too, especially since test results can be delayed. However, new Trump administration guidance would have teachers stay in the classroom after an exposure.

trump admin to endanger students and teachers in pandemic
[Photo by Drew Angerer/Getty Images]

HuffPost reports that some districts in Tennesee and Georgia have already said they may require teachers to continue working if they are asymptomatic, despite the possibility of spreading the virus to students. If all exposed are required to quarantine for two weeks, schools could face repeated shutdowns throughout the year as on-campus learning exposes and re-exposes teachers, students, and staff.

According to ABC though, the Trump administration’s labeling of teachers as “critical infrastructure workers” could mean that they’re exempted from these quarantine rules. Teachers’ organizations have decried the decision, with the American Federation of Teachers President Randi Weingarten releasing a statement saying, in part, “If the president really saw us as essential, he’d act like it. Teachers are and always have been essential workers—but not essential enough, it seems, for the Trump administration to commit the resources necessary to keep them safe in the classroom.”

The CDC’s guidelines still include recommendations for isolation after exposure, including limiting contact to ‘pods’ or ‘cohorts’ so that smaller groups can be quarantined after exposure, rather than the whole school, and this for staff:

Schools can implement flexible sick leave policies and practices that enable staff to stay home when they are sick, have been exposed, or are caring for someone who is sick.

Many school districts are still working to provide distance learning, or to require students to be on campus only part of the time.

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