Governor Ends Quarantine for Suspected COVID Exposure Cases in Schools | #coronavirus | #kids. | #children | #schools

Gov. Glen Youngkin announced an updated policy for COVID-19 quarantine guidance for education settings, ending recommendations for students to quarantine following exposure to COVID-19 infected individuals in K-12 schools, at childcare or in camps.

According to the policy, exposure is being within 6 feet of a person who has COVID-19 for a total of 15 minutes or more over a 24-hour period or having direct contact with respiratory secretions from an infected person. 

In a statement released July 15, the administration cited vaccines, readily available tests and treatments, low hospitalization rates and the increased number of Virginians with natural immunity as reasons for the updated policy.

Individuals experiencing symptoms, regardless of vaccination status, should begin isolation at home and get tested. Anyone who tests positive should isolate at home for at least five days. If they are asymptomatic or if their symptoms are resolving and they have been fever-free for 24 hours without medication, they may return after day 5 but they should mask through day 10.  

If they can’t mask or are unwilling to mask, including children under the age of 2, the Virginia Department of Health recommends a negative COVID test on or after day 6 before returning to class or childcare. The person also has the option to stay home through day 10. 

For anyone who is exposed but is asymptomatic, regardless of vaccination status, quarantine is no longer recommended. The students may continue to attend classes or childcare as long as they remain asymptomatic. 

The policy goes on to say masks are not routinely recommended indoors or outdoors at schools or childcare facilities.  However, masking is an option for anyone who wishes to do so and for those who face higher risk from COVID-19. 

The new state policy differs from the recommendations of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. The CDC still advises quarantine after exposure if you are not up to date on COVID vaccines or haven’t had COVID in the past 90 days. The CDC also recommends that those who may have been exposed to the virus wear masks through day 10 and watch for symptoms. 

“From the first days of my administration, I have supported parents in making informed decisions for their own families, whom they love and know best,” Youngkin stated in announcing the changes.

He said the pandemic is disrupting workplaces and family life when entire childcare facilities, camps and classrooms close in response to as few as two cases. He said the policy shift is the result of decreasing severity of the disease. 

Loudoun teachers worry that the new policy could be dangerous as the virus continues to spread. 

“Throughout the pandemic, Loudoun Education Association has advocated for the safety of our students, our educators, and our community. In order to provide uninterrupted in-person instruction, safeguards proven to minimize exposure and illness must remain in place,” Sandy Sullivan, Loudoun Education Association said in a statement. “Returning students exposed to COVID-19 to the classroom regardless of vaccination status is irresponsible and potentially endangers staff, students, and the community. Loudoun’s educators understand the importance of in-person instruction for our students’ academic and personal growth. By supporting quarantine requirements, LEA is continuing its support for uninterrupted instruction and safety for all.”

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