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N.C. health leaders update quarantine and contact tracing guidance for K-12 schools

No changes were made to general mask guidance, other that to refer people to the CDC’s Guide to Masks
Published: Feb. 11, 2022 at 5:16 PM EST
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RALEIGH, N.C. (WECT) - The StrongSchoolsNC Public Health Toolkit was updated by the North Carolina Department of Health and Human Services (NCDHHS) Thursday to eliminate contract tracing and update quarantine requirements.

Because of vaccinations, changes in the transmission rates, shorter incubation periods, and lower case rates of COVID-19, the effectiveness of contract tracing in K-12 schools has reduced and is no longer required.

For the most part, kids who are exposed to COVID-19 no longer need to be excluded from school, unless they have symptoms or test positive; however, exclusion is required in the following cases:

  • Positive antigen test with no symptoms and no known contact with COVID-19 - Take a PCR test within 24-48 hrs. If negative, individual can return to school. If positive, individual can return 5 days after the first positive test so long as symptoms don’t develop, but required to mask for 5 more days, unless exempt. Documentation of negative test to return not required.
  • Positive PCR test with no symptoms - Individual can return to school 5 days after positive test, so long as symptoms don’t develop. Required to mask for 5 more days, unless exempt. Documentation of negative test to return not required.
  • Positive PCR test with symptoms - Individual can return to school 5 days after first symptoms, but at least 24 hours since fever stops and symptoms improve. Required to mask for 10 more days, unless exempt. Documentation of negative test to return not required.
  • Person has symptoms but has not been tested, and is presumed positive - Individual can return to school 5 days after first symptoms, but at least 24 hours since fever stops. Required to mask for 10 days after first symptoms unless exempt. Documentation of negative test not required.
  • Person has symptoms and but received a negative test - Individual can return to school at least 24 hours after beginning to feel well and fever stops.

Notification of potential exposure is recommended. If notified of exposure, these recommendations apply.

“Wear a well-fitting mask for 10 days after the last known exposure, unless an exemption to face covering applies; be tested immediately if symptomatic, and on day 5 after exposure, unless the person tested positive for COVID-19 within the last 90 days. If school wide notification is done, at least weekly testing is recommended.”

No changes were made to general mask guidance, other that to refer people to the CDC’s Guide to Masks.

ToolKit guidance for all schools: “Require all children and staff in schools K-12th grade to wear masks consistently when indoors in areas of high or substantial transmission, as defined by the CDC.” This also includes public transportation.

The updates are effective February 21, 2022.

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