Information Regarding COVID-19 and Monkeypox

What You Should Know

  • AIDB has extensive expertise and systems in place to monitor and address possible infectious diseases, and  has comprehensive plans to address emergencies, including infectious disease. AIDB Health and Clinical Services is prepared to act quickly to protect the health and safety of AIDB students, consumers, staff and their families. AIDB has developed Pandemic Procedures which will operate within our existing Emergency Operations Plan. The Pandemic Procdures will be updated as necessary. To view the Pandemic Procedures, please click here: Pandemic Procedures.

    AIDB personnel are in regular contact with the Centers for Disease Control and the Alabama Department of Public Health and would continue this communication throughout any implementation of the plan.

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AIDB Updates

  • September 21, 2022 Update: Update Regarding COVID-19 Facemask Protocol

    As you know, we began this school year with a COVID-19 face mask protocol in place for students, consumers, and staff in order to provide the healthiest possible start to this school year. I am thankful to all of you for your support and willingness to work together on behalf of our students. I am happy to share with you that our efforts were successful! For an institution our size, our infection rate is currently quite low.

    The staff at AIDB Health and Clinical Services have closely monitored the statewide COVID-19 rates as well as the rate of COVID-19 exposure and infection within the AIDB student and employee communities. Due to the low rate of COVID-19 within AIDB and the decreasing rate of COVID-19 infections throughout the state, the Administrative Staff has decided that it is acceptable to remove the face mask requirement at this time. However, please know that we will continue to monitor the situation and will reinstitute the face mask protocol if needed in order to help protect our students, consumers, and staff.

    Beginning immediately:

    • AIDB employees will no longer be required to wear face masks at work. Employees are welcome to continue wearing face masks on a voluntary basis if they feel that is appropriate for their personal health.
    • Employees who are assigned to an Alabama Industries for the Blind Base Supply Center (Redstone Base Supply Center, Moody Base Supply Center, Ft. Rucker Base Supply Center, Warner Robbins Base Supply Center) must continue to comply with directives given by base command.
    • Regional Center consumers will not be required to wear face masks while visiting a Regional Center.
    • Students at Alabama School for the Blind, Alabama School for the Deaf, Helen Keller School of Alabama, E. H. Gentry Facility (EHG), and Alabama Freedom Center for the Blind (AFCB) will no longer be required to wear a face mask while at school or training.

    If you have any questions regarding the face mask protocol, please contact your supervisor.


    August 19, 2022 Update: Updated CDC Guidelines

    COVID-19 continues to circulate globally, however, there is significantly less risk of severe illness, hospitalization and death compared to earlier in the pandemic.

    Based on the newest CDC guidelines, AIDB will implement and support the following actions, effective Friday, August 19, 2022:

    • Continue to wear a well-fitting mask consistently and correctly, which reduces the risk of spreading the virus that causes COVID-19. Wearing a well-fitting mask or respirator consistently and correctly reduces the risk of spreading the virus that causes COVID-19. At a high COVID-19 Community Level, universal indoor masking in schools is recommended, as it is in the community-at-large.
    • People who have symptoms of respiratory or gastrointestinal infections, such as cough, fever, sore throat, vomiting, or diarrhea, should stay home. Testing is recommended for people with symptoms of COVID-19 as soon as possible after symptoms begin.
    • For exposures: If you are exposed to COVID-19, you will not be required to quarantine. You should wear a high-quality mask for 10 days and get tested on day 5.
    • If you test positive for COVID-19, you stay home for at least 5 days and isolate from others in your home.  If after 5 days you are fever-free for 24 hours without the use of medication, and your symptoms are improving, or you never had symptoms, you may end isolation after day 5. Regardless of when you end isolation, avoid being around people who are more likely to get very sick from COVID-19 until at least day 11. You should wear a high-quality mask through day 10.
    • Student cohorting is no longer required.
    • All campuses should clean work surfaces at least once a day to reduce the risk of germs spreading by touching surfaces.  

    AIDB will continue to monitor the most recent CDC guidelines and the Community Level of spread and keep you well informed. Additionally, AIDB guidelines will be evaluated and updated regularly as justified.


    August 10, 2022 Update: Monkeypox

    CDC is tracking an outbreak of monkeypox, a rare disease caused by infection with the monkeypox virus. Monkeypox symptoms are similar to smallpox symptoms, but milder.

    People with monkeypox get a rash that may be located on or near the genitals and could be on other areas like the hands, feet, chest, face, or mouth. The rash will go through several stages, including scabs, before healing. The rash can initially look like pimples or blisters and may be painful or itchy. Other symptoms of monkeypox can include:

    • Fever
    • Chills
    • Swollen lymph nodes
    • Exhaustion
    • Muscle aches and backache
    • Headache
    • Respiratory symptoms (e.g. sore throat, nasal congestion, or cough)

    Monkeypox spreads between people through direct contact with an infectious rash, body fluids, or by respiratory secretions during prolonged, face-to-face contact. Transmission of the monkeypox virus is possible from the onset of the first symptoms until the scabs have separated and the skin has fully healed.

    If you have a new or unexplained rash or other symptoms, avoid close contact with others until you have been checked out by a healthcare provider.

    As with many other diseases, hand hygiene is important in preventing contamination with the monkeypox virus. Frequent hand hygiene should be performed using an alcohol-based hand rub, or soap and water if an alcohol-based hand rub is unavailable.

    AIDB will continue to monitor updates of infectious diseases and will provide you with information to help maintain your safety and wellness.  


    July 28, 2022 Update: COVID-19 Facemask Announcement

    To: AIDB Employees
    From: John Mascia, Au.D., President, AIDB

    I look forward to a great school year for our students and staff! Two of the most important things we can do to support our students is to ensure they have a safe and healthy learning environment, and to do all we can to keep our schools open in spite of the continued presence of COVID-19. Since our students live and learn in a residential environment, and use communication methods that require them to be near their teachers and others; they need our help.

    Today, I am calling for the AIDB spirit to rise up as we band together, as one AIDB and support each other and our students. Beginning August 1st, all AIDB employees must wear a facemask while at work. All students at ASB, ASD, HKS, AFCB, and EHG who do not have medical conditions or tactile defensiveness that prevent them from wearing face masks will also be wearing face masks. Our schools will also be implementing other infection control protocols such as social distancing and cohorting. Detailed guidance will be given to school employees during the upcoming in-service sessions. 

    The facemask protocol will remain in effect until August 20th. At that time a decision will be made regarding the continuance or cancellation of the protocol. This three-week period will give our students who are coming in from all corners of the state the safest possible transition period and increase our ability to stop possible outbreaks amongst those who are most vulnerable – our youth. Since many of our staff members come and go throughout all campuses and regional centers, it is important that we ALL wear a mask to lessen the likelihood of cross-contamination. This protocol applies to all units of AIDB, including Regional Centers and Alabama Industries for the Blind. 

    Let’s join together to protect our vulnerable students and staff who are living and working in a residential environment. Together we can do this. Together we are LIMITLESS!


    March 17, 2022 Update: Face Mask Usage of AIDB Buses and Vans

    Throughout the COVID-19 pandemic AIDB has followed the guidelines set forth by the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) and Alabama Department of Public Health. In light of a recent change in CDC guidelines regarding face mask usage on public transportation, AIDB is adjusting its guidance for face mask usage on school buses and vans as follows, effective immediately:

    • Students, consumers and staff who are passengers on AIDB vans or buses are no longer required to wear a face mask while in the vehicle.
    • Drivers and aides are no longer required to wear a mask while in the vehicle.

    K12 students will continue to have their temperature checked before boarding buses and will continue to sit on buses in accordance with seating charts to ensure social distancing. Social distancing, increased hand washing, and contact tracing will continue.  

    We will continue to abide by the guidelines set in the January 6, 2022, Updated COVID-19 Quarantine and Isolation Guidelines which indicate, in part, that if you test positive for COVID-19 and are asymptomatic (showing no symptoms) or are mildly ill you should isolate for a minimum of 5 days and wear a face mask for an additional five days.  

    We will continue to monitor the COVID-19 situation and will make adjustments as necessary in order to provide the safest work and school environment for AIDB employees, students and consumers.  


    February 24, 2022 Update: Face Mask Mandate to End February 28, 2022

    Dear AIDB Employees,

    Due to the continued downward trend in statewide COVID-19 infections, Alabama Governor Kay Ivey recently issued a statement encouraging Alabama schools and universities to end face mask mandates. Throughout the COVID-19 pandemic, AIDB has closely monitored both the statewide COVID-19 rates as well as the rate of COVID-19 exposure and infection within the AIDB student and employee communities. In light of the decreasing numbers both statewide and within the AIDB community, AIDB will be following Governor Ivey’s encouragement to end face mask mandates. Beginning on Monday, February 28th, the following changes will go into effect:

    • AIDB employees will no longer be required to wear face masks at work. Employees can continue to check their temperature and wear face masks on a voluntary basis. Social distancing, increased hand washing, and contact tracing will continue. Employees who are assigned to an Alabama Industries for the Blind Base Supply Center (Redstone Base Supply Center, Moody Base Supply Center, Ft. Rucker Base Supply Center, Warner Robbins Base Supply Center) must continue to comply with directives given by base command.
    • Regional Center consumers will not be required to wear face masks while visiting a Regional Center.
    • Students at Alabama School for the Blind, Alabama School for the Deaf, Helen Keller School of Alabama, E. H. Gentry Facility (EHG), and Alabama Freedom Center for the Blind (AFCB) will no longer be required to wear a face mask while at school/training. However, if K-12, AFCB or EHG students are riding school buses or vans, they must continue to wear a face mask while they are being transported. Further, K12 students will continue to have their temperature checked before boarding buses and will continue to sit on buses in accordance with seating charts to ensure social distancing. Social distancing, increased hand washing, and contact tracing will continue.  

    We will continue to abide by the guidelines set in the January 6, 2022, Updated COVID-19 Quarantine and Isolation Guidelines which indicate, in part, that if you test positive for COVID-19 and are asymptomatic (showing no symptoms) or are mildly ill you should isolate for a minimum of 5 days and wear a face mask for an additional five days.  

    We will continue to monitor the COVID-19 situation and will make adjustments as necessary in order to provide the safest work and school environment for AIDB employees, students and consumers.  


    January 13, 2022 Update: RESCHEDULED - COVID-19 Testing

    Due to K-12 schools going virtual the week of January 17th, the COVID-19 testing announced below has been rescheduled to: Sunday, January 23 (5 pm-9 pm) and Monday, January 18 (8 am-10 am).


    January 13, 2022 Update: ASB, ASD and HKS to operate virtually the week of January 17th

    Dear AIDB family,

    Due to the increasing number of staff and students at Alabama School for the Blind, Alabama School for the Deaf, and Helen Keller School who are testing positive for COVID-19 or are in isolation due to exposure; our three K-12 schools will be operating virtually next week. Closed weekend buses will run as scheduled Friday and Saturday, January 14th and 15th.  The return buses will be scheduled for Sunday and Monday, January 23rd and 24th. In-person class will resume on Monday, January 24th.

    K-12 teachers, teacher aides, and dorm staff will work virtually. K-12 cafeteria staff will be working shifts at Alabama Industries for the Blind. Full-time K-12 bus drivers will be working on-site.

    All other AIDB units, including the following, will continue to work in-person as regularly scheduled:
    • Alabama Industries for the Blind
    • Alabama Instructional Resource Center for the Blind
    • Business Services
    • E. H. Gentry Facility
    • Human Resources
    • IT
    • Office of Institutional Advancement
    • Physical Plant
    • Regional Centers
    • Safety and Security
    • Transportation

    We will continue to monitor the situation and will adjust as necessary.

    Sincerely,
    John Mascia, Au.D.
    President, AIDB


    January 13, 2022 Update: COVID-19 Testing

    Testing AIDB is participating in a program whereby we will be able to test K-12 students and staff for COVID-19 upon return to school from closed weekends. Many people, especially children, and teens don’t have symptoms but can still spread the virus. Regular testing will help us identify infections before they can spread to others and is an effective way to help us keep schools open for in-person learning. 

    The test is a gentle, front-of-the-nose swab test, not the “brain swab”. It will take less than 1 minute, with results in 20-30 minutes and your privacy will be protected. 

    The program is funded by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services and is free to students and staff. It is completely a voluntary program, however, we will need your consent to be tested. Consent forms will be available in the principal's office on each K-12 campus. 

    Initial testing is planned for Monday, January 17 (5 pm-9 pm) and Tuesday, January 18 (8 am-10 am).
     

    January 6, 2022 Update: Updated COVID-19 Quarantine and Isolation Guidelines

    Dear AIDB Employees,

    The Alabama Department of Public Health (ADPH) announced today that it is revising its guidance regarding COVID-19 isolation and quarantine in the K-12 setting. The ADPH is now advising K-12 school students, faculty and staff to follow the updated guidance from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) which calls for shortened isolation and quarantine periods. Now that ADPH has changed its guidance for the K-12 setting, AIDB will be abiding by the new guidelines that are effective as of today, January 5, 2022.

    What does this mean for you?

    • If you test positive for COVID-19 and are asymptomatic (showing no symptoms) or are mildly ill: You should isolate for a minimum of 5 days followed by continued masking for an additional five days. You can end isolation and return to work after 5 full days if you are fever-free for 24 hours without the use of fever-reducing medication and your other symptoms have improved. If you continue to have fever or your other symptoms have not improved after 5 days of isolation, you should continue your isolation until you are fever-free for 24 hours without the use of fever-reducing medication and your other symptoms have improved. Loss of taste and smell may persist for weeks or months after recovery and should not delay the end of isolation. Employees who are in isolation or quarantine due to COVID-19 should not come to AIDB campuses for any reason. If you need assistance for a work-related issue while you are in isolation or quarantine, please contact your supervisor or AIDB Human Resources by phone or email.
    • If you come into close contact with someone who has COVID-19 and you are in one of the following groups, you do NOT need to quarantine:
      • You are ages 18 or older and have received all recommended vaccine doses, including boosters and the additional primary shots recommended for some immunocompromised people.
      • You are ages 5-17 years and have taken both doses of a two-dose series (Moderna and Pfizer) or one dose of the single-dose vaccine (Johnson & Johnson).
      • You had confirmed COVID-19 within the last 90 days by testing positive with a viral test.  
    • If you come into close contact with someone who has COVID-19 and you are in one of the following groups, you DO need to quarantine:
      • You are not vaccinated.
      • You did not receive the second dose of a two-dose series when eligible.
      • You are 18 or older and have received both doses of a two-dose series (Moderna or Pfizer) or one dose of single dose vaccine (Johnson & Johnson) but have not received the recommended booster shot when eligible.
      • You received the single-dose Johnson & Johnson vaccine over 2 months ago and have not received a recommended booster shot.
    COVID-19 Symptoms
    People with COVID-19 have had a wide range of symptoms reported – ranging from mild symptoms to severe illness. Symptoms may appear 2-14 days after exposure to the virus. Anyone can have mild to severe symptoms. People with these symptoms may have COVID-19: fever or chills, cough, shortness of breath or difficulty breathing, fatigue, muscle or body aches, headache, new loss of taste or smell, sore throat, congestion or runny nose, nausea or vomiting, diarrhea. If you develop any of these symptoms you should contact your healthcare provider.

    All AIDB employees should continue to abide by our current infection control protocols which are as follows: All employees, students and consumers should wear a face mask regardless of vaccination status; maintain 6 feet between yourself and others; buses, offices and classrooms should be sanitized regularly; using the honor system, all employees should screen themselves upon entering a building; and wash your hands thoroughly and often.

    Please note that these guidelines apply to ALL AIDB employees across the state, including regional centers and Alabama Industries for the Blind. AIDB will continue to review the guidance from the CDC and ADPH and will communicate changes with you as soon as possible.

    Sincerely,
    John Mascia, Au.D.
    President

    A copy of the news release from ADPH can be found on their website at the following link: https://www.alabamapublichealth.gov/blog/2022/01/nr5.html
     
    Information about COVID-19 can be found on the CDC website: https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/index.html

    January 3, 2022 Update: COVID-19 Quarantine and Isolation Guidelines

    Dear AIDB Employees,

    With the increase in COVID-19 Omicron numbers, I want to share with you how AIDB will be handling quarantine and isolation due to COVID-19 diagnosis or exposure moving forward.

    Throughout the COVID-19 pandemic, AIDB has followed guidance from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and Alabama Department of Public Health (ADPH). Last week the CDC issued guidance that allowed for shorter quarantine/isolation periods in some cases. However, according to ADPH, the CDC guidelines have not been specifically considered for the K-12 setting or in other congregate environments, such as residential dormitories. Since updated guidelines for the K-12 setting have not yet been published by the CDC, the ADPH does not recommend shortened quarantine/isolation in the K-12 setting. Since AIDB has crossover between our K-12 staff and non-school staff, AIDB will follow the guidance of ADPH so that we can do everything possible to ensure that our students can attend school safely and our employees can attend work safely.

    What does this mean for you?
    • If you test positive for COVID-19 you should practice isolation. You may return to work/school after at least 10 days from the date the first symptoms began; once there is no fever without the use of fever-reducing medicines, and you have felt well for 24 hours.
    • If you are unvaccinated and have been exposed to someone who has COVID-19, you should quarantine yourself and remain out of work for 14 days from the last known contact you had with the individual. If you become sick during this time, please be evaluated by your healthcare provider. Even if you test negative while you are in quarantine, you must complete the full 14 days of quarantine before returning to work because it may take up to 14 days for symptoms to appear.
    • If you are fully vaccinated and have been exposed to someone who has COVID-19, you may return to work as long as you are symptom-free.
    • Employees who are in isolation or quarantine due to COVID-19 should not come to AIDB campuses for any reason. If you need assistance for a work-related issue while you are in isolation or quarantine, please contact your supervisor or AIDB Human Resources by phone or email.

    All AIDB employees should continue to abide by our current infection control protocols which are as follows: All employees, students and consumers should wear a face mask regardless of vaccination status; maintain 6 feet between yourself and others; buses, offices and classrooms should be sanitized regularly; using the honor system, all employees should screen themselves upon entering a building; and wash your hands thoroughly and often.

    Please note that these guidelines apply to ALL AIDB employees across the state, including regional centers and Alabama Industries for the Blind. AIDB will continue to review the guidance from the CDC and ADPH and will communicate changes with you as soon as possible.

    Sincerely,
    John Mascia, Au.D.
    President

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