SHREVEPORT, La. (KTAL/KMSS)  – Students are returning to school with fewer COVID guidelines for the first time since the start of the pandemic in Spring 2020.

The Centers For Disease Control updated their Covid-19 guidance for schools on Wednesday, citing that students no longer need to quarantine – even after exposure. The center also halted ongoing screenings in K12 schools. There is also revised guidance around masking and managing exposure instances.

“If we stay kind of where we are in the country, they may continue on this way, or we may take some steps backward,” Dr. Martha Whyte, the Medical Director for Louisiana Department of Health Northwest Louisiana (Region 7), said.

Whyte says we have to be mindful that some schools in other parts of the U.S. haven’t returned to school yet.

In Desoto Parish, the school board already voted for the change last Thursday to allow students to stay in the classroom.

“This guidance doesn’t really necessarily move mountains for us,” Clay Corley, DeSoto Parish Schools Superintendent, said. “It does kind of reiterate and validate, you know, the direction we were already heading.”

Corley said school absentees were at an all-time high in his district last year.

“A vast majority of those were kids that were forced to stay home because of close contact,” Corley said.

The new guidelines recommend that students and school staff wear masks for ten days and test on day five after exposure.

“It’s great if they want to let them go to school and continue their daily lives as long as they do the other aspect of that, which is to mask,” Whyte said.

Whyte cautioned that COVID is still around, adding that roughly 600 people in Louisiana are hospitalized as of Friday.

“We’re running about six deaths in the state,” Whyte adds.

Caddo and Bossier parish school districts have already implemented “Parent and Guardian Choice” for students to remain in attendance.

According to the CDC, wearing a well-fitting face covering is highly encouraged through the prescribed quarantine period.