Less quarantine, ‘monitor-to-stay’ initiative among state’s new COVID-19 school guidance

NEW COVID-19 HEALTH GUIDANCE for students and public school staff members was announced late Thursday by the R.I. Department of Education and Gov. Daniel J. McKee. / PBN FILE PHOTO/JAMES BESSETTE
NEW COVID-19 HEALTH GUIDANCE for students and public school staff members was announced late Thursday by the R.I. Department of Education and Gov. Daniel J. McKee. / PBN FILE PHOTO/JAMES BESSETTE

PROVIDENCE – Reducing quarantine time for students who test positive for COVID-19 and exempting close contacts from quarantining are among the new school COVID-19 health guidance announced late Thursday by Gov. Daniel J. McKee and the R.I. Department of Education.

The changes follow the latest guidance provided by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention that both protects school community health while keeping students in school, McKee and RIDE said.

According to the new guidance, those who test positive, vaccinated or otherwise, should remain home and isolated for at least five days. They “may” return to school on the sixth day if they if they don’t have symptoms, the symptoms are improving or don’t have a fever for 24 hours.

Additionally, staff members and students ages 5 and older who are identified as close contacts and asymptomatic will not have to quarantine and should wear masks for 10 days if they are fully vaccinated. Students ages 5 through 17 who develop symptoms should be isolated at home and be tested, McKee and RIDE said.

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Students and staff who are close contacts and not exempt from quarantine will be encouraged to be part of the state’s new “monitor-to-stay” program. The initiative allows students and staff to attend school in person and participate in school-related extracurricular activities during their quarantine period, McKee and RIDE said. Such individuals should “conduct symptom screening” and state they don’t have symptoms for five days, follow quarantine and masking guidance while outside school, and athletic programs should continue current testing programs for sports, RIDE and McKee said.

“Every student deserves a full, in-person education, and these new guidelines will help us ensure that COVID-19 does not disrupt their learning,” McKee said in a statement.

R.I. Education Commissioner Angélica Infante-Green said Thursday in a statement that the new guidelines will ensure that students will benefit from academic and social-emotional supports of in-person learning “while protecting their health and safety.”

James Bessette is the PBN special projects editor, and also covers the nonprofit and education sectors. You may reach him at Bessette@PBN.com. You may also follow him on Twitter at @James_Bessette.

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