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Quarantine Protocols

Quarantine Protocol Recommendations

DCPS currently provides that kids will be required to quarantine if they have been in close contact with a student who tests positive. However, DCPS has changed the definition of "close contact" and says that a student who is within 3 to 6 feet of another student for longer than 15 minutes will not be considered a close contact if both students are wearing well-fitting masks and there are other mitigating factors in place like increased ventilation or physical distancing. DCPS already requires students to wear masks and says they are providing each classroom with additional filtration and each school with enhanced ventilation. Vaccinated individuals may be a close contact, but do not need to quarantine if they are asymptomatic; it is recommended, but not required that they test in 3-5 days. Finally, when a student tests positive for covid, siblings who live in the same household are not required to quarantine. Cumulatively, these policies have defined away much of the concept of a “close contact”. These policies likely translate to too few students in quarantine, which is very likely to result in more transmission. Instead, full classes sharing an indoor space for more than 15 minutes should quarantine if anyone in the class tests positive, not only in preschool classrooms as is DCPS’s current policy. While we share the goal of minimizing disruption to learning from quarantining, this adjusted policy will do much more to prevent infection and illness in our communities while ultimately preventing greater disruption resulting from longer closures necessitated by climbing infection rates. If the testing plan recommended above, including test to stay, is layered with these more robust quarantine guidelines, quarantine can then be more safely limited.