The New Jersey Department of Health recently updated the guidance for tuberculosis testing in New Jersey schools, the New Jersey Department of Education announced in an advisory.

The guidance is to limit TB screening in New Jersey schools to teachers/other employees and only those students at highest risk for TB infection. There are no changes to the groups of students or staff to be tested. The revised document seeks to clarify the language, simplify the process and address some frequently asked questions.

NJDOH continues to recommend testing for students born in a country with a high TB incidence as determined by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention when entering school for the first time in the United States. The TB incidence rate for any given country can be found on the World Health Organization’s website following the link provided in the guidance document. Local educational agencies may look up each country of origin and determine the most recent incidence data. This replaces the list of low incidence countries previously provided.

Unless named in a TB contact investigation (i.e., a known or suspected exposure), repeat TB testing is not required nor recommended for a student with documentation of a valid TB test regardless of when the test was done.

Unless named in a TB contact investigation, TB testing is not recommended for new employees, student teachers or contractors with a documented TB test result regardless of when it was done. Individuals with a history of a documented positive TB test may have their health care provider complete and submit a symptom assessment checklist.

Schools are no longer required to submit the “Annual Report of TB Testing in Schools” (TB-57 form) to the NJDOH TB Program. Schools may continue to use the TB-57 form for internal purposes in accordance with local policy.

While N.J.S.A. 18A:40-18 allows for the exclusion of any pupil failing to comply with the rules of the board of education relating to the determination of the presence of TB, there are no requirements or parameters that support excluding students pending TB testing when no symptoms of disease are present.

School districts are encouraged to review TB testing and diagnosis information from the CDC. If you have questions, reach out via email.