Montgomery Co. schools updates COVID-19 quarantine guidelines

With approval for COVID-19 vaccines for kids ages 5-11 looming, Montgomery County Public Schools in Maryland updated guidance on Monday for coronavirus-related quarantine for students throughout the school system.

Interim Superintendent Dr. Monifa B. McKnight and Dr. James Bridgers, the county’s acting health officer, presented the new guidelines. County Executive Marc Elrich also participated.

Based on recommendations released late last Friday from the Maryland Department of Health and the Maryland Department of Education, the revised quarantine guidance is based on three categories of exposure.

The quarantine guidance only applies to those who are unvaccinated.

Asymptomatic vaccinated individuals will not need to quarantine, as has been the case throughout the school year.

During the Q&A, Elrich applauded the county’s efforts to adapt to the pandemic.

“This is really incredible progress and we could have only done it together,” Elrich said. “Every prediction about this pandemic has been generally wrong… The reason we have been successful is our willingness to collaborate and be creative.”

The new quarantine guidelines are scheduled to take effect on Monday, Nov. 8.

The three categories of exposure include:

Category 1 – Non-high-risk exposure

According to McKnight, this category applies to instances of exposure where both the infected and exposed students were wearing masks. Under this first category, exposed students and close contacts must sign up for a COVID-19 screening program if they wish to remain in school.

However, they are not permitted to participate in certain high-risk, school sponsored activities, such as gym class, chorus, or close contact sports.

Students in this category are still expected to quarantine outside of the school setting.

Category 2 – Brief-risk exposure

This category applies to situations where the infected and the exposed were not wearing masks at the time of exposure. Examples of this situation include the lunch period, when students drop their masks to eat, and gym class in a closed setting.

Under the second category, students will be initially required to quarantine for 10 days, but may return to school after day seven of the quarantine if they submit a negative PCR test after day five.

In some instances, close contacts of those exposed will be allowed to return to school if they submit to regular rapid COVID-19 tests as a part of MCPS’ Test-to-Stay program being piloted by the county.

Category 3 – High-risk exposure

This category is for exposures that occur within high-risk settings, such as “indoor or high contact athletics and indoor forced exhalation activities such as singing, exercising, or playing brass instruments,” McKnight said.

For this third category, students will be required to be quarantined for 10 days, but can return to school after day seven if they submit a negative PCR test taken after day five.


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.


Joshua Barlow

Joshua Barlow is a writer, composer, and producer who has worked for CGTN, Atlantic Public Media, and National Public Radio. He lives in Northeast Washington, D.C., where he pays attention to developments in his neighborhood, economic issues, and social justice.

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