Gov. Glenn Youngkin announced updated guidance on quarantine procedures following exposure to COVID-19 in school, childcare and camp settings. This revised guidance outlines that quarantine is no longer routinely recommended after exposure to COVID-19 infected individuals in childcare, K-12 schools, and camp settings.
In general, masks are not routinely recommended in these settings, indoors or outdoors, except during isolation. Any individual who wishes to continue to mask, including those who face higher risk from COVID-19, may do so as an option. Masking is never recommended in these settings while the individual is eating, drinking, sleeping, or for children under the age of 2.
The updated guidance also states that those who are symptomatic (regardless of vaccination status) should begin isolation at home and undergo testing as recommended by their healthcare providers. The day symptoms began should be counted as day 0.
Those who test positive (regardless of vaccination status) should isolate at home for at least 5 days. If they are asymptomatic or symptoms are resolving and they have been fever-free for 24 hours, they may return to programming after Day 5, provided:
*If the individual is able to mask, they should do so through Day 10.
*If the individual is unable or unwilling to mask during this time (including children under age 2), the Virginia Department of Health (VDH) recommends a negative test on or after Day 6 in order to return to programming OR the person should remain home through day 10.
Schools with the resources to do so may consider offering rapid testing on-site to symptomatic individuals and/or distributing at-home rapid antigen test kits for testing at home. If a student becomes sick at school, arrange for the student to be picked up, while the student waits in a separate isolation room/area.
For exposed but asymptomatic persons (regardless of vaccination status), quarantine is no longer recommended in the above settings. Rather, these individuals may continue to attend programming as long as they remain asymptomatic.
*Exposure is defined as being within 6 feet of a person who has COVID-19 for a total of 15 minutes or more over a 24-hour period or having direct contact with respiratory secretions from an infected person.
Masks – Students/staff that attend programming during this time may consider wearing a mask around others indoors until Day 10.
Testing – Schools may use Test to Stay protocols and VDH testing resources to support this testing. o If a student or staff person in this group has ongoing household exposure to a person with COVID-19, VDH recommends students, families and staff consider more frequent testing; please see Test to Stay protocols for more information.
If the school or facility is experiencing an outbreak of COVID-19 that has been difficult to control or is unusual in size or scope, regional and local epidemiologists may apply professional judgment and recommend traditional quarantine and isolation standards be applied until the situation is stabilized.
Earlier in the year, individuals were encouraged to consider their own risk tolerance and determine what precautions made sense for them and their families. Currently, vaccines, tests and treatments continue to be readily available, and, at the same time, hospitalization rates are low and the number of Virginians with natural immunity has increased. As such, it is again timely for individuals, families and employers to re-evaluate which precautions are appropriate to them.
“From the first days of my administration, I have supported parents in making informed decisions for their own families, whom they love and know best,” said Youngkin. “As Virginians continue to return to the office and social settings, the pandemic is disrupting workplaces and family life when entire childcare facilities, camps and classrooms shutter in response to as few as two cases. Today marks a shift in my administration’s recommendations to optional quarantine for exposure to COVID-19 in childcare and school settings as the severity of the disease decreases.”
While our communities and Commonwealth are learning to live with the pandemic, we recognize that COVID-19 continues to impact many individuals. We are encouraged by our health systems’ continued advancement in both the understanding of, and treatment for, the virus. We will continue to be vigilant about surges or new variants and any impact to our healthcare system. While maintaining that prudence, Virginia’s communities can, and should, continue on a path to normalcy.