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IDOH eliminates contact tracing, quarantine guidance for schools

The Indiana Department of Health updated its quarantine guidance for schools, which goes into effect Wednesday Feb. 23. Students exposed to COVID-19 – but who do not have symptoms – will no longer be required to quarantine.

Quarantine is when a person has been exposed to a virus, and helps make sure they aren’t spreading it before developing symptoms or testing positive. Isolation is when a person has tested positive and has an active COVID-19 infection.

The recommendations IDOH issued Wednesday make several significant changes: no more contact tracing, case reporting or quarantining for students – regardless of school mask use or vaccination status.

But students who test positive for COVID-19 still have to isolate for a minimum of five days – as long as symptoms improve. The guidance says students need to mask for an additional five days. If they cannot mask, they should stay home for up to 10 days.

The change applies to Family and Social Services Administration child cares in Indiana. Though the isolation period may be a little longer. The shortened isolation period is contingent on consistent proper mask use. Masks are not recommended for children 2 or younger. And some children may struggle with mask wearing.

IDOH’s updated guidance also means schools will no longer be required to report cases to the state, and it will discontinue the school cases dashboard.

READ MORE: Are COVID-19 vaccines safe for kids? Here's what you need to know

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State Health Commissioner Dr. Kris Box said these changes were made because of the significant decrease in cases following the omicron surge and the availability of vaccines to school-age children.

“While they do not remove the need for continued vigilance, they will ease the reporting burden on schools and help ensure that children can stay in school,” Box said in a statement.

Weekly COVID-19 cases have dropped by nearly 90 percent and Thursday the state’s COVID-19 hospital census dropped below 1,500 for the first time since November.

To register your child for their COVID-19 vaccine, go to OurShot.IN.gov or call 211.

Contact Lauren at lchapman@wfyi.org or follow her on Twitter at @laurenechapman_.

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