The New Jersey Department of Health (NJDOH) has released updated guidance for K-12 schools, including updated school exclusion criteria to reflect the CDC’s recent reduction in isolation and quarantine timelines. This guidance also includes recommendations for additional measures schools can implement in regions with very-high COVID-19 community transmission, which were shared with schools on December 30, 2020.
NJDOH’s guidance on isolation and quarantine follows the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s (CDC) guidance. The shortened timeframes for isolation and quarantine focus on the period when a person is most infectious, followed by continued masking for an additional five days.
“We know that students benefit from in-person learning, and safely continuing in-person instruction remains a priority,” said Health Commissioner Judith Persichilli. “These recommendations will help local health departments and schools in handling COVID-19 cases and exposures among students and staff to ensure healthy outcomes for all.”
The school recommendations incorporate the updated isolation and quarantine guidance for cases and exposures. Under the proposals, students or staff do not generally need to wear masks outdoors, including during outdoor physical education classes or school sports, except during days six-10 after completing five-day isolation or quarantine.
When the COVID-19 risk level of community transmission is very high, schools are recommended to limit participation in extracurricular activities to students and staff who are up to date with COVID-19 vaccination, and to conduct COVID-19 screening testing of students and staff, regardless of vaccination status, twice weekly for participation in all extracurricular activities.
Under the updated isolation and quarantine guidance, persons who test positive for COVID-19 should stay home and isolate for at least five full days. Those without symptoms and those for whom symptoms have improved can end isolation after five days, but a mask should be worn for days 6-10.
During quarantine for individuals exposed but not sick or testing positive, individuals should stay home and away from other people for at least five days. If COVID-19 symptoms develop, get tested and follow isolation recommendations. If asymptomatic, individuals should get tested at least five days after the last close contact and if the test is positive, follow isolation recommendations. If the test is negative, quarantine can be ended after day five, but a mask should be worn for days six-10.
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