ROCKVILLE, Md. – A revised quarantine policy for public schools in Montgomery County is expected to reduce the number of students required to quarantine and participate in virtual learning.
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Maryland health and school officials revised quarantine guidelines in October. The guidance came into effect in November.
Here’s what’s new and what hasn’t changed according to Montgomery County school officials:
Based on the guidelines of MDH and MSDE, and in conjunction with the Montgomery County Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS), there will now be two categories for no quarantine or a reduced quarantine period for close contacts of a person who tests positive for COVID-19. Close contacts are individuals who are less than six feet from someone who tests positive for a cumulative total of 15 minutes over the course of 24 hours, or less than three feet in a classroom.
Cases where the infected student and close contacts wear masks during the exposure and the exposure was not during a high-risk activity: The closest contacts must be enrolled in or applying to the MCPS COVID-19 Screening Test Program. As long as they agree to participate in the screening testing program, they can continue to attend school every day. However, they cannot participate in high-risk school sponsored activities and are expected to still be quarantined outside the school environment. The state defines high-risk settings or activities as “indoor athletics or with a lot of contact, and indoor forced exhalation activities, such as singing, exercising, or playing a wind or brass instrument.” Families can enroll in the screening testing program by filling out the form linked here.
Test-to-stay program: Students who are in close contact with a positive COVID-19 case and who do not wear masks during exposure such as lunch or periods of eating and drinking. The Test-to-Stay program allows close contacts to attend school for five days and take rapid COVID-19 tests. As long as the shortcuts are negative, these students are allowed to continue their lessons. This program will start in a limited number of schools and will be expanded to more schools in the coming weeks
All other situations, including when masks are not worn or when the infected person is an adult: This includes identified close contacts for exposure that occurs during high-risk settings or activities. In these cases, unvaccinated close contacts should be quarantined for 10 days but can return to school after day 7 if the close contacts submit and a negative PCR test is taken on or after day 5 from the last exposure date.
Updated quarantine guideline ONLY for identified close contacts
What hasn’t changed:
Symptomatic individuals with a positive COVID-19 test will be required to quarantine for 10 days, self-monitor for 14 days, and return to school only if they are free of COVID-19 symptoms, including fever of 100.4 or greater, sore throat, cough, difficulty breathing diarrhea, vomiting and loss of taste or smell. As before, the quarantine directive only applies to unvaccinated people. Asymptomatic vaccinated individuals do not need to be quarantined, as has been the case this entire school year.