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MDHHS issues new quarantine guidance for fully vaccinated, unvaccinated students

Published: Sep. 8, 2021 at 11:25 AM EDT
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LANSING, Mich. (WILX) - Some students may or may not have to quarantine if exposed to COVID-19, according to the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services’ new quarantine guidance.

Wednesday, the MDHHS updated their quarantine guidance for both vaccinated and unvaccinated students for the 2021-2022 school year.

MDHHS recommends local health departments and schools work together to quickly isolate COVID-19 cases among students and staff, identify close contacts of those cases and adopt quarantine policies that reduce the risk of transmission in schools while allowing in-person learning. When evidence-based prevention measures, including universal masking, are in place, modifications may be made to the 10- to 14-day at-home quarantine.

School quarantine guidance for asymptomatic students who were exposed to a student infected with COVID-19 varies depending on a variety of circumstances. In all cases, the student who has tested positive for COVID-19 should isolate and follow directions from their local health department. Any individual that displays COVID-19 symptoms, regardless of vaccination status, should be tested and isolate as directed.

Under the new guidance, a student exposed to COVID-19 can remain in school under the following scenarios:

  • A fully vaccinated student (regardless of whether they wore a mask) who came in close contact with a COVID-positive student. The exposed student can remain in school if they wear a mask and monitor symptoms for 14 days after their exposure. They should test for COVID-19 three to five days after their last exposure to the COVID-positive student. If the exposed student tests positive, then the student should isolate and follow directions from their local health department.
  • An unvaccinated student who was masked and exposed to a COVID-positive student who was also masked in an indoor school setting, so long as the students remained at least three to six feet apart. The exposed student can remain in school if they wear a mask, but they should monitor symptoms for 14 days following the exposure.
  • An unvaccinated student who was masked and exposed to a COVID-positive student who was also masked in an indoor school setting, but the students were less than three feet apart and the student tests daily. The exposed student can remain in school if they wear a mask. They should monitor symptoms for 14 days and test daily before coming into the school building for the seven days following the exposure. They should continue to monitor for symptoms for a total of 14 days following the exposure. The exposed student should work with their school district and local health department to determine options available for daily testing. If the student cannot complete daily testing for seven days following the exposure, the student should not remain in school and should follow the guidance below.

An unvaccinated student exposed to COVID-19 should not remain in school under the following scenarios:

  • If the exposed or COVID-positive student, or both were not wearing a mask. Unvaccinated students who are unmasked are more likely to become ill because they are more likely to have been exposed to larger amounts of virus. The exposed student should not remain in school, and instead the student should quarantine at home for 10 days following the exposure. They may return after day 10 if they have not had any symptoms during those 10 days. They should continue to monitor for symptoms for a total of 14 days following the exposure. The student may return after day seven if they test negative that day and do not have symptoms. They should continue to monitor for symptoms for a total of 14 days following the exposure.
  • A student who was masked and exposed to a COVID-positive student who was also masked in an indoor school setting, but the students were less than three feet apart and the student does not test daily.

“The best protection against COVID-19 are the three safe and effective vaccines we have available, and we urge all eligible Michiganders to get vaccinated,” said Dr. Joneigh Khaldun, chief medical executive and chief deputy for health. “As many of our students are too young to be vaccinated, masks are an important tool to prevent the spread of the virus and allow for in-person learning to continue uninterrupted.”

Wednesday, educators across Mid-Michigan gathered at the Capitol building for community prayer as teachers head back to the classroom. Some educators tell News 10 they think the new guidelines will raise some eyebrows, but overall it’s good for school districts.

Ingham County Intermediate School District Superintendent Jason Mellema said, “This quarantine... this test-to-stay will allow more kids to be in school and reduce that burden because then teachers can plan to build those relationships and focus on lessons with the students who are present and not try to balance as much as in-person and virtual at the same time. Its very difficult to do that.”

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