The Dare County Schools (DCS) has announced new COVID-19 quarantine guidelines that will allow individuals to return from quarantine after either 7 or 10 days rather than two full weeks.
The Oct. 5 announcement comes in the wake of a memo from Dare County Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS) Director Sheila Davies to Schools Superintendent John Farrelly.
In it, Davies wrote that based on an Oct. 5 call between local health directors, State Health Director Dr. Betsy Tilson and NC Department of Instruction leaders, as well “as local, state and national data which indicates very low levels of risk of transmission of the virus after 10 days of exposure, [the DHHS] will, effective immediately, authorize early release from quarantine options…according to the CDC’s general quarantine guidance.”
One notable change is that adults in school settings, regardless of vaccination status, may now be exempt from quarantine if there is universal masking in school. Prior to today, that exemption only applied to students.
If a non-vaccinated student or staffer is identified as a direct contact of an infected individual, they no longer have to quarantine and be excluded from school for 14 days — a previous requirement in districts, such as Dare, where social distancing was not in effect. They can now return after 7 days from exposure if they have a negative molecular test and are symptom free. Or they can return after 10 days from exposure if they are symptom free.
According to Davies memo, under the 7-day return option, the post-quarantine transmission risk is estimated at about 5% with an upper limit of about 12%. Under the 10-day option, the risk is estimated at about 1% with an upper limit of about 10%.
With both options, symptom monitoring and masking through Day 14 after exposure is required. But social distancing, which cannot be implemented with all Dare County students back in class, is not required. There is currently a mask mandate in effect in local schools.
Parents whose children return back to school early under either option will have to fill out an online Early Release Attestation Form and provide a negative test result, if applicable.
Currently, according to DHHS data, there are 4 active cases and 0 quarantines among school staffers. Among all DCS students, there are 10 active cases with 38 students in quarantine.