The new K-12 school recommendations say children who have not been fully vaccinated and are exposed to the coronavirus should quarantine for at least five days after their last close contact with a person who has Covid-19. Adults who are not vaccinated against Covid-19 or who have not received a booster shot are advised to follow this recommendation, too.
Previously, the CDC K-12 guidance recommended a 14-day at-home quarantine for people exposed to the coronavirus who were not fully vaccinated.
The new K-12 recommendations say students, teachers and staff with Covid-19 should stay home and isolate away from others for at least five full days. Day 0 is considered the first day of symptoms or the day of a positive viral test for people who do not have symptoms. People whose symptoms are improving can leave isolation after five full days if they are fever-free for 24 hours. They should wear a mask around others for an additional five days.
Previously, the CDC K-12 guidance recommended at least a 10-day isolation period for people infected with the virus.
The agency also updated its screening testing recommendation for K-12 schools.
“In K-12 schools, screening testing can help promptly identify and isolate cases, initiate quarantine, and identify clusters to help reduce the risk to in-person education,” the new guidance states.
Previously, the K-12 recommendations said screening testing should be offered to students who have not been fully vaccinated when community transmission is at moderate, substantial or high levels. The guidance now says that, at a minimum, those students should be offered screening testing. It includes an updated chart that recommends screening testing for all students at least once per week in communities with moderate to high transmission.
Additionally, the new K-12 recommendations now recommend screening testing for all teachers and staff at least once per week. Previously, such screening was recommended only for teachers and staff who were not fully vaccinated.
Recommended screening testing for high-risk sports, such as football and wrestling, and high-risk extracurricular activities, such as singing or band, has also been updated. In previous guidance, screening was recommended at least once per week for participants who were not fully vaccinated and twice per week in areas with substantial coronavirus transmission. According to an updated chart in the recommendations, those screenings now include all participants, regardless of vaccination status.
In areas with high transmission, schools are now advised to cancel or hold high-risk sports and extracurricular activities virtually in order to protect in-person learning; previous guidance did not advise cancellations or virtual events in high-transmission areas if all the participants were fully vaccinated. Currently, the CDC says, more than 98% of counties have high Covid-19 transmission.
In areas with moderate to high transmission, previous guidance on low- and intermediate-risk sports had also recommended screening participants who were not fully vaccinated once per week. That recommendation now includes all participants, regardless of vaccination status.