Fairfax County schools update COVID-19 guidance

Fairfax County Public Schools, Virginia’s largest school system, updated its guidance when it comes to how long students and staff should stay home after being exposed to or coming down with COVID-19.

Most of the changes line up with recommendations from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

One of the changes is school staff with COVID-19 will be allowed to return to school five days after coming down with the illness. To return, their symptoms must have improved and staff members must have been fever-free for 24 hours without the help of medications. For those who do return, the guidance calls for the wearing of masks for five additional days.

Although the CDC said the same isolation period guidance can be used for students, the school system said it will not adopt that change. Students who have the virus must still stay home for 10 days.

The decision not change the isolation period for students is due to the CDC recommendation that students who return must physically distance from other students for five additional days. School officials said that is not possible to do during meals, FCPS said in a letter to families.

For students who have COVID-19, they can only return 10 days after first experiencing symptoms or 10 days after testing positive for asymptomatic students. Those students must be feeling better and have been fever-free for 24 hours.

The school system says an FCPS isolation letter with the return date must also be submitted to the student’s school.

When someone is exposed to COVID-19, a quarantine period kicks in, but there may be exceptions.

FCPS said it will make that period five days, as recommended by the CDC. For students who return, they must be able to wear a mask for five additional days; if not, those students must be quarantined for 10 days.

For fully vaccinated students and staff, they may be exempt from quarantine if they are able to wear a face mask, are asymptomatic, and have an email stating they are vaccinated from the county’s health department.

FCPS will no longer require Return to School documentation for a student considered a close contact in the community outside of the school environment.

More Coronavirus news

Looking for more information? D.C., Maryland and Virginia are each releasing more data every day. Visit their official sites here: Virginia | Maryland | D.C.

Mike Murillo

Mike Murillo is a reporter and anchor at WTOP. Before joining WTOP in 2013, he worked in radio in Orlando, New York City and Philadelphia.

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