The Michigan Department of Health and Human Services (MDHHS) Wednesday released new COVID-19 guidelines for students in public schools.
The guidelines are not mandatory, and schools may choose whether to follow them.
According to the new guidelines, fully vaccinated students who come in contact with another student who tests positive for COVID-19 do not have to quarantine, regardless of whether they were wearing a mask during the encounter.
“The exposed student can remain in school if they wear a mask and monitor symptoms for 14 days after their exposure,” the guidelines add. “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.”
Masked students who are unvaccinated may remain in school without quarantining, even if one of them tests positive, as long they were three to six feet apart when they had contact. An asymptomatic student in this situation should, according to the new guidelines, monitor themselves for symptoms for 14 days.
The same applies for unvaccinated, masked students even if their contact was less than three feet apart, though MDHHS suggests students exposed to COVID-19 in that situation “work with their school district and local health department to determine options available for daily testing.”
If the student cannot receive daily testing for at least seven days, they should remain at home according to the new guidelines.
Unvaccinated, unmasked students who come in contact with a COVID-19 positive student should stay home from school for 10 days, and monitor their symptoms for 14.
MDHHS director Elizabeth Hertel offered her thoughts on the department’s new guidelines.
“When layered prevention strategies such as masking, distancing, testing, isolation and quarantine are applied consistently, school-associated transmission of COVID-19 is significantly reduced – which keeps kids in the classroom so they can learn,” she said. “However, if someone is exposed to COVID at schools, it’s important for them to follow quarantine guidance to prevent spread to other children.”
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