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MDHHS updates school quarantine guidelines, continues to strongly recommend universal masking

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Updated: Dec. 3, 2021 at 1:28 PM EST
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LANSING, Mich. (WNEM) - The Michigan Department of Health and Human Services (MDHHS) issued updated quarantine recommendations for schools  in an effort to prevent the spread of COVID-19 among school-aged children while also reducing disruptions to in-person learning.

In addition to vaccination, which is approved for ages 5 and up, MDHHS said masking should be consistently utilized for in-person learning to keep kids, staff, and families safe.

MDHHS also recommends local health departments and schools work together to quickly isolate COVID-19 cases among students and staff, identify close contacts, and adopt quarantine policies that reduce the risk of transmission in schools while still allowing in-person learning. They said when these prevention measures are utilized in schools, students exposed to COVID-19 cases may not have to quarantine at home and can stay in the classroom.

“Schools have the ability to be safe now that children ages 5 and older can be vaccinated,” said Dr. Natasha Bagdasarian, chief medical executive at MDHHS. “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 additional strategies that keep our schools and public spaces safe.”

Quarantine and isolation are determined by the local health department and are used as important tools to prevent the spread of disease. According to MDHHS:

• You isolate when you are infected with COVID-19 and have tested positive, even if you do not have symptoms. Isolation is used to separate people who are infected with COVID-19 from those who are not infected.

• You quarantine when you might have been exposed to COVID-19. This is because you might become infected with COVID-19 and could spread COVID-19 to others.

• Any individual that displays COVID-19 symptoms, regardless of vaccination status, should not attend school and should be tested for COVID-19.

• Fully vaccinated contacts without symptoms do not need to quarantine.

MDHHS also said contacts who are not fully vaccinated and do not have symptoms but have been wearing masks can participate in school activities if wearing a mask for 14 days after exposure and using a “Test to Stay” strategy. If the contacts were not wearing masks, they may participate in school activities at the discretion of the local health department if additional testing and mitigation strategies are used.

MDHHS is providing schools antigen testing supplies free of charge through the MI Safe Schools Testing program. Schools and individual school districts can request antigen test kits through the Mi Safer Schools: School Antigen COVID Test Ordering form. MDHHS will be leveraging our partnership with Intermediate School Districts to help distribute COVID-19 antigen tests based on the orders placed in the School Antigen COVID Test Ordering Form. Questions about test supply orders can be sent to your Intermediate School District and any other school testing related questions can be sent directly to MDHHS at MDHHS-COVIDtestingsupport@michigan.gov

To learn more about the COVID-19 vaccine, visit Michigan.gov/COVIDVaccine.

For more information about COVID-19 in Michigan, visit Michigan.gov/coronavirus.