NJ school quarantine guidelines cut in half despite COVID surge | #coronavirus | #kids. | #children | #schools

New Jersey’s Health Department has halved the recommended isolation and quarantine periods for students and school staff to five days, offering districts more flexibility as COVID closes classrooms across the state.   

Though the guidelines issued Monday are voluntary, they still stirred concern among some medical experts, coming amid record-high case numbers that have been driven by the highly infectious omicron variant. The department’s COVID activity reporting system currently shows all parts of New Jersey experiencing red, or “very high,” levels.

“The timing seems unsafe to me,” said Robin Cogan, a preschool nurse in Camden County and executive director of the New Jersey School Nurses Association. “I can see limiting quarantine, but both isolation and quarantine, limiting that when we’re in red, I can’t begin to understand the thought behind it.” 

Health officials recommend isolation for people who are sick or have tested positive for COVID-19 and quarantines for those who have been exposed to the virus. Previous New Jersey guidelines called for a 10-day window.

Mrs. Brown, a first grade teacher at School Number 5, instructs her classroom and students at home at the same time using video conferencing and smart boards in Cliffside Park, N.J. on Friday Sept. 18, 2020.

Almost a third of New Jersey’s school districts were operating remotely last week as they dealt with rising cases and COVID-fueled staff shortages. Most infected children face mild symptoms. Still, the omicron surge has sent more children to the hospital in New Jersey in recent weeks than at any time in the 22 months of the pandemic.

Gov. Phil Murphy declared a new public health emergency on Tuesday, extending his authority to require masks inside schools. Murphy on Monday said students and teachers will have to wear masks for the “foreseeable future” given the “tsunami” of new COVID cases. 

Source link