Some quarantined Mars Area School District students will spend less time at home.
Superintendent Mark Gross said at a board meeting Tuesday the district updated its COVID-19 quarantine policy, changing the quarantine period from 14 days to 10 days for students who show no symptoms following a close contact to a positive case.
If students receive a negative COVID-19 test on day five of their quarantine or later, Gross noted, the period can be shortened even further to eight days.
While Gross acknowledged the state Department of Education continues to say a 14-day quarantine is “safest,” new guidance allows districts to implement shorter quarantines for students and adults with no COVID-19 symptoms.
He said such long quarantines among those who show no symptoms has a detrimental impact on both their academic and social development.
“We're looking forward to trying to reduce these quarantines, because we do know it's problematic, especially with students who are in activities,” Gross said. “We feel that the social and emotional needs of students are just as important” as stemming the COVID-19 spread, he said.
That change applies immediately, meaning those who are quarantined can return after 10 days rather than two full weeks.
And with the increasing rates of COVID-19 vaccination, Gross said that, too, will impact the quarantine policy following state education guidance.
“I'm actually happy I'm able to talk about people that are vaccinated, because weeks and weeks ago it wasn't even the case,” Gross said. “If someone has received a vaccine, whether it be the one shot or two, when they've completed the vaccine and then they're two weeks post-having the vaccine, there is no quarantine required at all.”