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COVID-19 testing confusion shouldn't change Tennessee school tactics, state says

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Posted at 4:10 PM, Aug 28, 2020
and last updated 2020-08-28 17:10:16-04

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (WTVF) — Recent confusion over COVID-19 testing guidelines from the Centers for Disease Control should not cause schools to let their guard down, the Tennessee health department says.

This week, the CDC revised its guidelines to say individuals who have been exposed to the coronavirus "do not necessarily need a test" to determine if they may have been infected, raising concerns that the recommendations could lead to more asymptomatic spread.

"The CDC clarification on asymptomatic testing is permissive for asymptomatic testing in various exposure scenarios and does not change our approach in schools," Tennessee Department of Health spokesperson Shelley Walker said in an email.

"We applaud school districts for following TDH guidelines and strongly encourage them to keep up the good work."

According to the state's recommendations, "Any student or staff who has been a close contact (within 6 feet for >10 minutes) of a person with confirmed COVID-19 must quarantine at home for a period of at least 14 days from their last exposure to that individual."

"This is not optional," the guidance adds.

The Tennessee policy does not recommend that those individuals need to get tested for the virus.

CDC guidance for schools, updated a week ago, also says that schools should "inform those who have had close contact with a person diagnosed with COVID-19 to stay home and self-monitor for symptoms, and follow CDC guidance if symptoms develop."

Nashville officials joined a chorus of other jurisdictions in saying they would not adopt the CDC recommendations that asymptomatic individuals do not need to be tested, questioning whether the abrupt change was prompted more by politics than science.

In addition, the state Department of Health spokesperson added that monitoring for symptoms will become increasingly important in the weeks ahead.

"We strongly recommend that symptomatic persons consult with a medical provider regarding diagnosis and testing, as this is particularly important as we approach cold and flu season," Walker added.