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Michigan Updates Quarantine Guidance For Masked Students

LANSING, Mich. (AP) — The state-issued updated guidance Wednesday to help Michigan schools and local health departments navigate whether students exposed to a coronavirus-infected student should quarantine at home or stay in school.

A change: Unvaccinated but masked students who were less than 3 feet from a COVID-positive student can remain in school but only if they are tested daily for seven days after the exposure. Such a student previously would have been told to isolate for 10 days or seven days with a negative test.

The recommendation is among many included for the first time in a school-specific document for the general public at the start of the academic year. The state Department of Health and Human Services had previously provided county health departments with quarantine guidance for all types of settings including schools.

The state says fully vaccinated students can stay in school if they wear a mask and monitor for symptoms for 14 days, regardless of whether they were masked when they came in close contact with an infected student.

Unvaccinated students who were at least 3 to 6 feet away can remain, too, if they and the COVID-positive student were masked. Exposed students should quarantine if they or the infected student were unmasked — seven days with a negative test or 10 days without one.

"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," MDHHS Director Elizabeth Hertel said in a statement. "However, if someone is exposed to COVID at schools, it's important for them to follow quarantine guidance to prevent spread to other children."

Gov. Gretchen Whitmer's administration has declined to reinstate an indoor mask mandate for schools, instead, leaving the decision to local health agencies and K-12 districts. At least 59% of traditional public students are required to be masked, according to the governor's office.

© 2021 Associated Press. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

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