LANSING — With more than 60 percent of students statewide covered by a mask mandate, new quarantine guidelines have been released.
The Michigan Department of Health and Human Services (MDHHS) has issued new quarantine guidance for both symptomatic and asymptomatic students.
“When layered prevention strategies such as masking, distancing, testing, isolation and quarantine are applied consistently, school-associated transmission of COVID-19 is significantly reduced, which keeps kids in the classroom so they can learn,” said MDHHS Director Elizabeth Hertel. “However, if someone is exposed to COVID at schools, it’s important for them to follow quarantine guidance to prevent spread to other children.”
The MDHHS is recommending local health departments and schools work together to quickly isolate COVID-19 cases among students and staff, identify close contacts of those cases and adopt quarantine policies that reduce the risk of transmission in schools while allowing in-person learning.
Where universal masking is in place, modifications can be made to the 10 to 14 day at home quarantine.
“The best protection against COVID-19 are the three safe and effective vaccines we have available, and we urge all eligible Michiganders to get vaccinated,” Dr. Joneigh Khaldun, chief medical executive and chief deputy for health, said. “As many of our students are too young to be vaccinated, masks are an important tool to prevent the spread of the virus and allow for in-person learning to continue uninterrupted.”
Under the new guidance, a student exposed to COVID-19 can remain in school if they are fully vaccinated and came in close contact with a COVID-positive student; if they are unvaccinated and wore a mask and were exposed to a COVID positive student who also wore a mask, as long as they remained 3 to 6 feet apart; if they are unvaccinated and wore a mask and were exposed to a COVID-positive student who also wore a mask, but were less than 3 to 6 feet apart and the student tests daily.
An unvaccinated student exposed to COVID-19 should not remain in school if they were exposed and not wearing a mask.
Anyone with symptoms of COVID-19, regardless of vaccination status, should be tested and be quarantined as directed.
With 229 school districts throughout the state requiring masks to protect more than 757,904, or 60.5 percent of all students in Michigan, Governor Whitmer is applauding them for making the safe choice.
“After 19 months of COVID, the science is clear: Vaccines and masks keep kids safe and help them continue learning in person,” she said. “On vaccines, the message is simple: Every eligible Michigander 12 and older should get their safe, effective and FDA-approved vaccine to protect themselves, their loved ones and their community.
“On masks, both the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services and the CDC have provided strong guidance to encourage school districts and local health departments to make the choice to put in place smart mask policies for students, teachers and staff in schools regardless of vaccination status because it will allow everyone to stay safe while continuing to learn and grow in person. I agree with our top health experts. As of today, 229 districts totaling over 60.5 percent of Michigan students are covered by smart mask policies implemented by their school district or local county health department. That number continues to increase and we expect to see that trend continue.”
Whitmer also said that in other states, school and local authorities are being pressured, threatened and banned from taking actions like these.
“In Michigan, we are working closely with local health departments and supporting school districts to make sure schools are prepared to protect students this academic year,” she said. “With 60.5 percent of our students and counting protected by smart mask policies, Michigan’s local leaders are taking COVID seriously and their actions are helping to control the spread of the virus while allowing kids to continue learning in class. Districts and local public health leaders should keep working together to implement mask guidelines and create buy-in at the community level, which leads to better outcomes and better adherence to policies that keep kids, teachers, staff and parents safe. Together we can protect ourselves from COVID and ensure kids keep learning in person.”