Florida Changes Quarantine Guidelines for Students Exposed to COVID-19

The state of Florida says parents or legal guardians of students can decide whether or not to quarantine their children who are exposed to someone who tests positive for COVID-19.

Dr. Joseph Lapado, Florida’s newly appointed top health official, Thursday (23/9) signed new guidelines that will allow students to continue to attend class “without restriction or differential treatment” as long as the student does not show symptoms of exposure to the virus. Parents or guardians can decide whether their children remain at home for seven from the last date of contact with someone who tested positive.

The new guidelines replace previous guidelines requiring students to be quarantined for at least four days after being exposed to someone who has tested positive for COVID-19. The guidelines maintain the previous rule that students who tested positive could be quarantined for 10 days, test negative for the disease and remain symptom-free, or present a doctor’s letter giving them permission before returning to school.

Florida Governor Ron DeSantis.

Florida Governor Ron DeSantis.

Governor Ron DeSantis defended the new guidelines in a press conference Wednesday (23/9). “Quarantineing healthy students is very detrimental to their educational progress,” said DeSantis.

“It’s also troubling for the family,” he continued, adding that Florida would follow a “symptom-based approach.”

The new guidelines run counter to recommendations issued by the US Centers for Disease Prevention and Control (CDC) for people who have not been vaccinated to self-isolate for 14 days if they are within 1.8 meters of someone who tests positive for COVID-19.

The new guidelines also prompted a judge to dismiss a lawsuit filed by five local school districts. The five districts are contesting Florida’s prohibition for local districts to enforce the mandatory wearing of masks. The DeSantis administration has withheld funds for the school district and withheld the salaries of local school superintendents and school board members who defied the governor’s order to ban such mandates. [uh/lt]

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