New Resp Virus Guidance

Blackstone-Millville Regional School District

Respiratory Virus Guidelines

On March 25, 2024, we were informed that the Massachusetts Department of Public Health  recently updated its guidance:

Staying home to prevent the spread of respiratory viruses |

This guidance aligns with recent CDC updated recommendations for respiratory viruses,  including COVID-19 which were released on March 1, 2024. This guidance is for respiratory viruses like Influenza, RSV, and Covid-19 as they share similar transmission methods, symptoms, and prevention strategies. This unified approach aims to simplify recommendations and address common risks more effectively. 

The new CDC guidance for respiratory virus:

  • When you have ANY respiratory virus - stay home and away from others if you have respiratory virus symptoms. These symptoms can include fever, chills, fatigue, cough, runny nose, and headache, among others.

  • Return to normal activities when, for at least 24 hours, both are true:

    • Your symptoms are getting better overall, and

    • You have not had a fever (and are not using fever-reducing medication)

  • When you go back to your normal activities, you should wear a  mask for the next  5 days: and 

  • Take added precautions over the next 5 days, such as taking additional steps for cleaner air, hygienephysical distancing, and/or testing when you will be around other people indoors.

    • Keep in mind that you may still be able to spread the virus that made you sick, even if you are feeling better. You are likely to be less contagious at this time, depending on factors like how long you were sick or how sick you were.


The updated Respiratory Virus Guidance recommends that people stay home and away from others until at least 24 hours after both their symptoms are getting better overall, and they have not had a fever (and are not using fever-reducing medication). Note that depending on the length of symptoms, this period could be shorter, the same, or longer than the previous guidance for COVID-19.

It is important to note that the guidance doesn’t end with staying home and away from others when sick. The guidance encourages added precaution over the next five days after time at home, away from others, is over. Since some people remain contagious beyond the “stay-at-home” period, a period of added precaution using prevention strategies, such as taking more steps for cleaner air, enhancing hygiene practices, wearing a well-fitting mask, keeping a distance from others, and/or getting tested for respiratory viruses can lower the chance of spreading respiratory viruses to others.

We considered multiple options for adjusting isolation guidance at different lengths of time. In addition to fewer people getting seriously ill from COVID-19 and having better tools to fight serious illness, the CDC considered other factors such as the personal and societal costs of extended isolation as well as the timing of when people are most likely to spread the virus (a few days before and after symptoms appear). The updated guidance is easy to understand, practical, and evidence-based, as well as more aligned with long-standing recommendations for other respiratory illnesses.

In addition to the CDC’s Respiratory Virus Guidance, there are several special considerations for people with certain risk factors for severe illness, including older adults, young children, people with weakened immune systems, people with disabilities, and pregnant people.

To read the complete report, click here. Also, the CDC has created an information FAQ page for the new respiratory guidance, available here.

As of 3/25/24, the Massachusetts Department of Public Health has aligned with the updated CDC guidance.  Full Massachusetts guidance can be accessed here