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Pewamo-Westphalia is changing their quarantine requirements

Board approved requiring quarantine within three feet of exposure
Published: May. 4, 2021 at 4:06 PM EDT
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WESTPHALIA TOWNSHIP, Mich. (WILX) - A school district in mid-Michigan is changing its quarantine policy because so many students are being forced to stay home.

Pewamo-Westphalia is now only requiring students who were within three feet of someone who tests positive for COVID-19 to quarantine, instead of six feet.

The district said hundreds of students were sent to quarantine this year and none of those students got sick. By cutting the distance for contact tracing, the district said more students will be where they want to be, at school.

“This has been hard for everyone,” said Stephanie Smith, who has three kids at Pewamo-Westphalia High School. One of her kids is in quarantine for a second time. “Monday afternoon that even though she tested negative that morning, she was quarantined due to a close contact from the previous Friday.”

Pewamo-Westphalia Community Schools said several students have been quarantined up to five times and never got sick. Those who tested positive got the virus from outside of school. So the school board decided to cut the quarantine requirements from six feet to three feet.

“Let them have a month in school face to face without the constant worry of being quarantined,” said Smith.

PW interim superintendent Julie Farmer said the only thing that’s changing is the distance.

“The goal is for student and staff safety. But also to get our students in school face to face as much as possible,” said Farmer.

The district currently has 33 students quarantined, mostly in the high school. Farmer said with this change it should cut quarantines down to virtually zero.

“Still we want students to be six feet apart, staff needs to stay six feet from the students,” she said.

Smith said this change is another way to bring a sense of normalcy to students.

“A lot of things that they would look forward to at the end of the school year are being taken away from them because of these unnecessary quarantines,” said Smith.

The district is checking with the health department to see if the six feet for contact tracing is a recommendation or a mandate before implementing the change. Right now there isn’t clear guidance.

News 10 also contacted the health department, but have not heard back.

The CDC did revise its physical distancing recommendations to three feet between students in classrooms. It also says people do not have to quarantine if they are exposed two weeks after getting their final dose of the vaccine. People 16 and older are eligible to get vaccinated.

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