Under new stipulations, quarantine reduced to 7 days for those exposed to COVID-19 in Utah schools

ST. GEORGE — Under the Utah Department of Health’s new policy for schools across the state, Southern Utah students, teachers and staff could see their time in quarantine reduced by half if certain stipulations are met.

In accordance to this new policy, the Washington County School District sent out a message to parents Monday afternoon, which states that students, staff and teachers who are exposed to a person who tests positive to COVID-19 may be able to return to school after seven days.

A quarantined individual could qualify for this reduction if he or she:

  • goes seven days without any symptoms,
  • was wearing a mask when he/she was in contact with a positive case, and the individual who tested positive was also wearing a mask,
  • waits seven days before submitting a COVID-19, PCR or antigen test (an antibody test is insufficient),
  • has a COVID-19 test that comes back negative, and
  • presents a written negative test result to the school principal or administrator.

Steven Dunham, communications director for the Washington County School District, told St. George News that this modification goes into effect immediately.

In reference to a recent meeting, in which the board discussed the challenges of equity when it comes to COVID-19 testing for students who don’t have insurance, Dunham said the board remains in discussion with the intention to “even the playing field.”

Students at Diamond Valley Elementary space themselves out before school, Diamond Valley, Utah, Aug. 13, 2020 | File photo courtesy of Annette Graf, St. George News

He said he believes COVID-19 testing is covered by insurance, and for those who don’t have insurance, there are other options, such as the Family Healthcare Clinic in St. George and Medicaid, which covers low-income patients as well.

“Through those options, we believe we can cover every child,” he said.

The district currently has 23 active cases and 60 total cases since opening in August. Statewide, there have been 3,748 total cases in schools: 505 teachers and 2,749 students.

In a statement released on Friday, Shannon Dulaney, superintendent of the Iron County School District, said they are grateful that the policies are being continually reexamined and modified to best serve students and employees.

One stipulation not included in their statement, as compared to Washington County, is a requirement for the quarantined individual to present a written negative test result to the school principal or administrator.

As of Friday, Iron County School District reports a total of 15 positive cases: 12 students (none related to school attendance or school-related activities) and four employees (none related to work/school activities). Of these, there are currently seven active cases and nine that have recovered. Since the first day of school, 56 students and nine employees have had to quarantine due to an exposure.

Copyright St. George News, SaintGeorgeUtah.com LLC, 2020, all rights reserved.

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