Michigan health officials update COVID guidance for K-12 schools

Guidance now reflects updates made by CDC

COVID-19 face mask and school supplies. (Julie Moreno, KSAT)

LANSING, Mich.Michigan health officials updated their K-12 school quarantine and isolation guidance to reflect updates made by the CDC.

The CDC’s modifications to the guidance shortens the quarantine and isolation periods to as short as five days in some circumstances.

These changes will allow students, teachers and staff to return to school sooner after infection, under certain circumstances. Quarantine guidance is also updated, allowing students and staff to return to school sooner after a school-based exposure to COVID.

“When layered prevention strategies such as vaccination, masking, distancing, testing, isolation and quarantine are applied consistently, school-associated transmission of COVID-19 is significantly reduced,” according to the press release.

Health officials said the guidance will help K-12 schools maintain in-person learning by outlining mitigation strategies when students and staff are exposed to COVID in school.

“We always advocate for preventative measures that keep our children safe,” said Dr. Natasha Bagdasarian, MDHHS chief medical executive. “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.”

What is the difference between quarantine and isolation?

Quarantine and isolation are used to prevent the spread of coronavirus. You isolate when you are already infected with COVID and have tested positive.

Isolation is meant 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. That is because you might become infected with COVID-19 and could spread it to others.

  • Test to Stay: Test every other day for 6 days following the exposure and consistent and correct use of a well-fitted mask.
  • Mask to Stay: The consistent and correct use of a well-fitted mask when around others and in school and public settings.

Read: Michigan reports 44,524 new COVID cases, 56 deaths -- average of 14,841 cases per day

What does the new guidance suggest for isolation?

Students, teachers and staff who test positive for COVID or have symptoms should isolate regardless of vaccination status.

If someone tests positive they should monitor for symptoms from the day of exposure through day 10 of isolation. They should isolate at home for five days after symptoms begin, or after the COVID test was taken for those who are asymptomatic.

If symptoms improve, or they still don’t have symptoms, they can return to school for days 6-10 while wearing a well-fitted mask. They should stay home for all 10 days if unwilling or unable to wear a mask.

If the individual has a fever they should stay home until they are fever free for a period of 24 hours without the use of fever-reducing medications.

What does the new guidance suggest for quarantine?

Close contacts of a COVID-19 case do not need to quarantine at home if they had a confirmed COVID-19 case within the last 90 days and/or are up to date on all recommended COVID-19 vaccines.

They should still monitor their symptoms and “mask to stay” for 10 days from the date of their last exposure to COVID.

Close contacts of a COVID-19 case who do not meet the criteria mentioned above need to quarantine or may need to “test to stay” and/or “mask to stay.”

They may be required to quarantine at home for days 1-5, take a COVID test on day five and “mask to stay” for days 6-10. Or they may be required to “test to stay” for days 1-6 and “mask to stay” for days 1-10 or home quarantine for days 1-10 if unable or unwilling to wear a mask.

Students, teachers and staff should monitor for symptoms throughout quarantine for days one through 10. Day “0″ is day of last close contact with any COVID-19 positive individual. If you get symptoms, get tested.

Read: Where to get COVID test in Michigan, what to do with at-home test results

Michigan health officials updated their K-12 school quarantine and isolation guidance to reflect updates made by the CDC. (MDHHS)

Monitoring for symptoms

You should monitor for symptoms for 10 days after after being exposed.

Watch for symptoms like fever, cough, shortness of breath or other COVID-19 symptoms. If symptoms develop, get tested as soon as possible and then follow isolation recommendations.

If symptoms do not develop, get tested at least five days after last exposed. If possible, stay away from others within your home, especially people who are at higher risk of getting seriously ill from COVID.

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.

Read: Complete Michigan COVID coverage

About the Author:

Kayla is a Web Producer for ClickOnDetroit. Before she joined the team in 2018 she worked at WILX in Lansing as a digital producer.