Photo: Huong Vu for Strategies for Children

The federal government has just released new Covid guidance for schools, camps, and for early childhood programs.

One key change is that people who have been exposed to Covid no longer need to quarantine.

“We’re in a stronger place today as a nation, with more tools—like vaccination, boosters, and treatments—to protect ourselves, and our communities, from severe illness from COVID-19,” Greta Massetti says in a press release from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). Massetti is a CDC senior epidemiologist. “This guidance acknowledges that the pandemic is not over, but also helps us move to a point where COVID-19 no longer severely disrupts our daily lives.”

Instead of quarantining, those who are exposed to Covid should “wear a high-quality mask for 10 days and get tested on day 5.”

Educators and providers in Massachusetts can also refer to the state’s related guidance.

As the Boston Globe reports, the state’s guidance “is similar to what the state released at the end of the 2021-22 school year, and aligns with new isolation and testing guidance the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention issued…”

The Globe adds that in a memo to school superintendents, Department of Elementary and Secondary Education Commissioner Jeffrey C. Riley and Department of Public Health Commissioner Margaret Cooke write, “No asymptomatic person should be excluded from school as a result of exposure, regardless of vaccination status or exposure setting.”

What happens when children and staff do test positive for Covid? Massachusetts guidance calls for 5 days of isolation. In addition, people who are asymptomatic or have resolving symptoms and are fever-free “without the use of fever-reducing medicine for 24 hours” may return to programming “after Day 5 and should wear a high-quality mask through Day 10.” And children who have a negative test on Day 5 or later do not need to mask

For more specific details, please check out the state’s guidance.

Both Massachusetts and the federal government also encourage everyone to stay up to date with their vaccines. As Amy Kershaw, acting commissioner of the Massachusetts Department of Early Education and Care writes in a recent email to the field:

“Throughout this August and September, DPH is offering free family-friendly vaccine clinics for educators, staff, students, and family members. No ID, health insurance, or appointment is needed at these clinics, and fliers to promote them to families are available in multiple languages and can be found here.

“Families can find these vaccination clinics and others across the state online at VaxFinder.
“In addition to the COVID-19 vaccine, it is essential that we work together to ensure that as many children and adults as possible also receive flu vaccines. This will reduce the number of children and educators who need to stay home due to illness.”

Please share these guidelines with your professional networks to help children, parents, and early educators stay safe as the pandemic winds on.