FILE - In-person pandemic learning

Students in fifth grade wear masks as they wait for their teacher in the classroom at Oak Terrace Elementary School in Highwood, Illinois.

(The Center Square) – The Michigan Department of Health and Human Services (MDHHS) updated K-12 school quarantine and isolation guidance to reflect recent changes from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).

New isolation and quarantine guidance allow students, teachers, and staff to return to school sooner after infection, under certain circumstances.

The new guidance aims to bring stability to parents and staff trying to return to in-person work after over a year of virtual learning and higher quality education for kids after virtual school brought dismal results

“We always advocate for preventative measures that keep our children safe,” MDHHS Chief Medical Executive Dr. Natasha Bagdasarian said in a statement. “Children of school age – ages 5 and up – are now eligible to get vaccinated, and children ages 12 and up are eligible to get boosted. In addition to masking and testing, we feel confident that schools can remain as safe as possible for our children.”

Layered prevention strategies such as vaccination, masking, distancing, testing, isolation and quarantine, applied consistently, significantly reduce the transmission of COVID-19.

MDHHS recommends:

  • Universal masking in K-12 schools.
  • Isolate if an individual tests positive for COVID-19, even if asymptomatic.
  • Quarantine if an individual has been exposed to COVID-19.

K-12 COVID-19 Isolation Guidance

  • Students, teachers & staff who test positive for COVID-19 should isolate.
  • If you test positive but are asymptomatic, monitor for symptoms through day 10 post-exposure
  • Isolate at home for 5 days (day “0” is day symptoms begin or day test was taken for students, teachers & staff who do not have symptoms); and
  • If symptoms have improved or don’t exist, return to school while wearing mask for days 6 -10; or
  • Stay home for 10 days if unwilling/unable to wear a mask.
  • If you have a fever, stay home until you are fever-free for a period of 24 hours without the use of fever-reducing medications.

K-12 COVID-19 Quarantine Guidance

Close contacts of a COVID-19 case don’t need to quarantine if they:

  • Had confirmed COVID-19 within the last 90 days; and/or
  • Are current on all recommended COVID-19 vaccines.

These contacts should monitor their symptoms and wear a mask for 10 days from the date of last exposure.

Close contacts of a COVID-19 case who do not meet the criteria above need to quarantine or may test every other day for six days post-exposure. Exposed individuals may:

  • Home quarantine for days 1-5, if feasible test on day 5, AND “Mask to Stay” for days 6-10; or
  • “Test to Stay” for days 1-6 AND “Mask to Stay” for days 1-10; or
  • Home quarantine for days 1-10 if unable/unwilling to mask.

Symptom Monitoring

During days 0-10 following exposure:

  • Watch for symptoms, such as fever, cough, shortness of breath.
  • If symptoms develop, get tested immediately and isolate until receiving test results. If the test is positive, then follow isolation recommendations.
  • If no symptoms, test at least five days after last exposure.
  • If possible, stay away from others in the home, especially people who are at higher risk of dying from COVID-19.
  • For the full 10 days after last exposure, avoid people who are immunocompromised or at high risk for severe disease, and nursing homes and other high-risk settings.

Staff Reporter

Scott McClallen is a staff writer covering Michigan and Minnesota for The Center Square. A graduate of Hillsdale College, his work has appeared on Forbes.com and FEE.org. Previously, he worked as a financial analyst at Pepsi.