IDPH, CDC Adopt New School Outbreak Guidance

By Benjamin Cox on October 15, 2021 at 4:01pm

The Illinois Department of Public Health has updated guidance on defining outbreaks in schools, placing it in line with the CDC.

The CDC and IDPH have adopted the Council of State and Territorial Epidemiologists’ guidance for school-associated outbreaks. According to the guidance, the new national recommendation defines a school outbreak as either (1) multiple cases comprising at least 10% of students, teachers, or staff within a core group or (2) at least three cases within a specified core group. A core group means only those individuals who were together during an exposure period. For example, this could be limited to a classroom, a sports team, before/after school care, performing arts, or other groups and likely does not apply to the entire school population.

To be considered part of an outbreak in a school, cases must meet the criteria for a probable or confirmed school-associated case with a positive test result, or the start of symptoms within 14 days of each other. These individuals are identified to be close contacts with each other while in the school setting and not another setting outside of school. The cases must also be epidemiologically linked to the school setting or extracurricular activity, meaning they were at the same place at the same time.

Masks continue to be required to be worn in schools by students, staff, and visitors.

Previously, the CDC recommended that two cases associated with a school would constitute an outbreak.

Under this new guidance, Jacksonville High School will no longer be listed under an outbreak for reporting purposes.