Michigan’s health department has updated quarantine recommendations for schools to help prevent coronavirus transmission and keep students in the classroom.
State health officials continue to recommend universal masking in all K-12 school settings, but have not issued a mask mandate, leaving individual school districts or counties to decide whether they want such a rule.
Last month, health officials issued a public health advisory advising anyone over the age of 2 to wear a mask, regardless of vaccination status, at indoor rallies as the state is in the throes of its fourth coronavirus wave.
There were 46 new outbreaks of coronavirus statewide in K-12 schools and 511 ongoing outbreaks in these environments, the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services reported Monday.
The updated guidelines, released Friday, indicate that students exposed to coronavirus cases may not need to self-quarantine at home and remain in class.
Here are the quarantine guidelines for students who are exposed to the virus at school and have no symptoms:
- Fully vaccinated contacts without symptoms do not need to be quarantined.
- For those who have not been vaccinated, and both the exposed student and the coronavirus-positive student were masked, contacts can participate in school activities if they wear a mask for 14 days after exposure and use a “test-to-stay” strategy. That suggested strategy is to test every other day for seven days after exposure.
- For those unvaccinated and one or both students exposed, if additional testing and mitigation strategies are used, contacts may participate in school activities at the discretion of the local health department.
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Students who test positive for the virus are not allowed to attend school and are required to self-isolate at home for 10 days after the onset of symptoms or after testing positive if they have no symptoms.
Anyone with COVID-19 symptoms, regardless of vaccination status, should not attend school or school activities and should be tested for the virus, MDHHS said.
Health officials encourage vaccinations, which are approved for children ages 5 and older, as well as the wearing of masks and tests to keep students at school and children, staff and families safe.
They also encourage local health departments and schools to quickly isolate coronavirus cases, identify close contacts and adopt quarantine policies to reduce the risk of transmission.
“Schools can be safe now that children ages 5 and older can be vaccinated,” says Dr. Natasha Bagdasarian, MDHHS medical director.
“We continue to urge all eligible residents to get the safe and effective COVID-19 vaccine as soon as possible as it is our best defense against the virus. Masks, distancing, quarantine and isolation are all complementary strategies that keep our schools and public spaces safe.”
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In general, people are considered fully vaccinated two weeks after the second dose of a Pfizer or Moderna vaccine or the Johnson & Johnson one-time vaccine. Children aged 5-11 years can receive two pediatric doses of the Pfizer vaccine and children aged 12-17 years can receive two adult doses of the Pfizer vaccine.
MDHHS provides free antigen testing supplies to schools through the MI Safe Schools Testing program. Schools and districts can request antigen testing kits through the program.
Home tests can be purchased at supermarkets and pharmacies. Some home tests will be available to schools through their intermediate school districts. Visit www.michigan.gov/coronavirus to find free community-based, pop-up antigen testing sites or coronavirus testing sites.
Contact Christina Hall: [email protected] Follow her on Twitter: @challreporter.
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