Annapolis, MD (Sept. 30, 2021) — Today, the Anne Arundel County Department of Health announced adjustments to its school quarantine recommendations based on CDC guidance, allowing for shorter quarantine periods for unvaccinated students and staff who are deemed close contacts. With up to 100 Anne Arundel County Public School students quarantined daily since the school year began, the Department of Health continues to encourage COVID-19 vaccinations for all eligible students and staff.
“Quarantining is essential to protect students and staff from continued exposure; however, quarantine is disruptive to a child’s learning process,” Anne Arundel County Health Officer Nilesh Kalyanaraman, M.D., said. “Fully vaccinated close contacts who are asymptomatic do not have to quarantine – the best option for protection from disease and avoiding quarantine is vaccination. The adjusted guidance provides additional options for unvaccinated individuals, to minimize the impacts of quarantine on learning.”
Individuals vaccinated against COVID-19 are less likely to have severe symptoms, less likely to spread the virus, and do not need to quarantine if they are asymptomatic. Vaccinated asymptomatic students can continue to attend school in-person and participate in other school activities provided they continue wearing masks indoors.
“Parents, if your children are age 12 and older and eligible for the COVID-19 vaccine, and you want them to stay in class – go vax. If you want them to play sports, go vax. If you want them to be in clubs, go vax,” Anne Arundel County Health Officer Nilesh Kalyanaraman, M.D., said. “Get smart and get the shot. That’s how we get ahead of COVID-19 and go to the head of the class.”
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommends a range of acceptable quarantine periods, depending on vaccination status. These strategies include:
- Fully vaccinated close contacts should be referred for COVID-19 testing three to five days following the date of their last exposure. Asymptomatic, fully vaccinated close contacts do not need to quarantine at home following an exposure. They can continue to attend school in-person and participate in other activities. In addition to correctly wearing masks in school, they should wear a mask in other indoor public settings for 14 days or until they receive a negative test result.
- Not fully vaccinated close contacts should be referred for COVID-19 testing. Regardless of test results, they should quarantine. Acceptable quarantine periods include the following options.
- Option 1 is recommended by the CDC. Close contacts should quarantine at home for 14 days after exposure and should not attend school or participate in sports, clubs or any other activities.
- Option 2 is an acceptable alternative. Close contacts should quarantine for 10 days after exposure and should not attend school or participate in sports, clubs or any other activities.
- Option 3 is an acceptable alternative. Close contacts can be tested between day five to seven after exposure and quarantine for seven days if the test is negative. They should not attend school or participate in sports, clubs or any other activities during quarantine.
NOTE: Shortened quarantine periods should not be considered in schools where indoor masking is not required or students cannot correctly and consistently wear a mask.
Parents and students should recognize that each of these guidelines comes with a different level of risk for infection and disease. Schools should provide students and their families with the exact date of last exposure and the date of possible return to school based on the quarantine option implemented.
“We recommend that schools select quarantine guidelines they can consistently implement, appropriately track and that correspond with the masking requirements of the school,” said Dr. Kalyanaraman. “Adopting guidelines that allow children to return to the classroom sooner should be considered. Each school or school system will need to assess its ability to monitor and administer shorter quarantine guidelines.”