MONTGOMERY, Ala. (WSFA) - As of Thursday, school districts in Alabama had reported 5,970 cases to the state already this school year, according to the Alabama Department of Public Health.

More detailed information, including a breakdown by school district, isn’t expected to be released until the Alabama COVID-19 schools dashboard is updated in mid-September.

It is mandatory for school principals and nurses to report all suspected and diagnosed COVID-19 cases to the state.

Students and educators across Alabama are heading back to the classroom this month, some for the first time in a year.

State Health Officer Dr. Scott Harris says the best way to keep everyone safe is to get a COVID-19 vaccination, if eligible, and consistently wear a mask.

Harris says keeping kids out of in-person instruction can cause more than just educational consequences.

That includes “social consequences and mental health consequences, even nutritional consequences. So, we want kids in school any way we can,” he said.

Harris also says it is important to remember hygiene-related things like covering your mouth when you sneeze or cough and washing your hands. If your child might be sick, Harris says parents should use common sense when deciding whether to send them to school.

“Any child with fever needs to stay away from other kids,” Harris said. “I don’t think there’s any different rules with COVID than there are with any of the other, you know, common sense things that parents have to deal with.”

If your child could have a respiratory-type illness, whether that is fever or not, Harris says it is a good idea to call their pediatrician before deciding on going to school.

When asked about quarantine guidelines for children, Harris says a person who has been infected with COVID-19 still needs to be home for a minimum of 10 days.

“However, there are some exceptions to that close contact rule and the one that, the ones that are most important are if you’re vaccinated, then you don’t count as a close contact. Even if you’re exposed to someone you don’t have to go home,” Harris said.

If you are interested in getting vaccinated against COVID-19 or have other COVID-related questions, visit or a vaccination site near you.

“We want kids in school any way we can, the best way to do that is to be vaccinated and to consistently wear a mask and that’s the way that we’re able to keep most kids in school,” Harris said.

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