Deemed 'Essential Workers,' Some Teachers Told to Skip Quarantine After COVID-19 Exposure
August 25, 2020
All teachers will be on the frontlines when school buildings reopen. But in some cases, they might formally be considered essential workers, which means they'll be expected to continue to go to work even if they've been exposed to COVID-19.
Backed by the White House, a handful of states have given the green light for teachers to be considered critical infrastructure workers, and in at least Tennessee and Florida, some districts already have put that policy in place. While most people who've been in close contact with someone who has tested positive for COVID-19 are advised to quarantine for two weeks, critical workers like teachers in those districts are told to keep working after an exposure, as long as they aren't displaying symptoms and take other safety precautions.
Designating teachers as essential allows districts to more easily maintain staffing levels to keep school buildings open-a daunting task, given the expected shortage of available substitute teachers and requirements that staff members stay home with even mild symptoms that could be tied to COVID-19, such as a sore throat or cough. But it also increases the risk that the coronavirus could spread throughout the school community, public health experts say.