Area schools respond after CDC guidance changes

Rockingham County Public Schools
Rockingham County Public Schools(WHSV)
Published: Jan. 4, 2022 at 10:38 PM EST
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HARRISONBURG, Va. (WHSV) - School officials are keeping a close eye on COVID-19 cases as more are being reported locally.

New guidance from the CDC shortened the quarantine period for people with COVID-19 from 10 days to five days, but only if someone is asymptomatic or their symptoms are resolving (without fever for 24 hours), followed by five days of wearing a mask when around others to minimize the risk of infecting people they encounter.

Valley schools are decided whether or not to follow this guidance, or stick to the 10-day isolation period.

In a letter to Page County families, school officials said they will follow this new CDC guidance, which asks students and staff to test themselves in some circumstances, if possible.

According to the Virginia Department of Health, any school division can make the decision to be more strict with quarantine and isolation periods.

In a letter to PCPS families, Superintendent Dr. Antonia Fox said the school division will monitor health data and may require longer quarantine/isolation periods or require additional testing when needed.

“Individual classrooms or an entire school may be moved to remote learning for a short period of time due to staffing issues, outbreaks, or large numbers of student/staff absences/quarantines,” Dr. Fox said in the letter to families. “We are asking that all families be prepared for this at any point in time.”

In Rockingham County, school policy still requires 10 isolation days, but Superintendent Dr. Oskar Scheikl said other conversations need to happen before that changes.

“In the CDC guidance, it says five days if you have no symptoms. That’s easy to handle, but there are also statements in there about if you have symptoms,” Scheikl said. “[If] the symptoms are gone or they have improved. How do we judge if the symptoms have improved? If your runny nose is a little better, does that mean all of a sudden you can come back?”

Dr. Schiekl said this may be a topic of discussion for the Rockingham County School Board on Jan. 10.

For Harrisonburg students, Superintendent Dr. Michael Richards said guidance from the CDC has been changing quickly, and Harrisonburg City Public Schools does not want to rush decisions, so it will also stick with the 10 day isolation period for now.

All school officials continue to ask students and their families to remain vigilant and stay home if they are sick.

Additionally, the CDC is updating the recommended quarantine period for anyone in the general public who is exposed to COVID-19.

For people who are unvaccinated or are more than six months out from their second mRNA dose (or more than 2 months after the J&J vaccine) and not yet boosted, the CDC now recommends quarantine for five days followed by strict mask use for an additional five days. If a five-day quarantine is not feasible, the CDC suggests people wear a well-fitting mask at all times when around others for 10 days after exposure.

Individuals who have received their booster shot do not need to quarantine following an exposure but should wear a mask for 10 days after the exposure.

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