DESE releases new COVID-19 isolation and quarantine guidance for children

DESE releases new COVID-19 isolation and quarantine guidance for children

The Department of Elementary and Secondary Education (DESE) has released new isolation and quarantine guidance for children while at school, in child care or recreational camp settings, and other outside-of-school times.

Quarantine for asymptomatic exposed children, regardless of where the exposure occurred, is no longer required for these settings. Children who are identified as close contacts may continue to attend programming as long as they remain asymptomatic. Those who are able to wear face masks around others should do so until Day 10. A COVID-19 test on days 2 and 5 is recommended, but not required.

Children who test positive must be isolated for at least 5 days. If they are asymptomatic or symptoms are resolving and they have been fever-free for 24 hours, they may return to programming after day 5 following this guidance: 

  • If the child is able to mask, they must do so through Day 10; and
  • If the child is unable to mask, they must have a negative test on day 5 or later in order to return to programming prior to day 11.

Symptomatic children can remain in their school or program if they are tested immediately on site, and that test is negative. Best practice would also include wearing a mask, if possible, until symptoms are fully resolved. If the symptomatic child cannot be tested immediately, they should be sent home and allowed to return to their program or school if they test negative, or they have been fever-free for 24 hours without the use of fever-reducing medication and their symptoms have resolved, or if a medical professional makes an alternative diagnosis. A negative test is strongly recommended for return if the latter two conditions are met.  

Please note that at this time, the US Food and Drug Administration has not approved or authorized any at-home rapid antigen test for use in children under 2 years of age. However, at-home rapid antigen tests may be used off-label for children under 2 years of age for purposes of post-exposure, isolation, and symptomatic testing. It is recommended that parents or guardians who decide to test their children under 2 years of age administer the at-home rapid antigen test themselves. You will find more information at the Mass.gov website.

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