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ACPS updates quarantine policy

BY JENNIFER CABRERA

Alachua County Public Schools (ACPS) has quietly updated its quarantine policy for students: “Under the new guidelines, a student who was within three to six feet of a student with COVID-19 in a classroom setting is NOT considered a close contact and will NOT be directed to stay at home if BOTH students were wearing masks the entire time.

The updated guidance states, “This update adopts the most recent definition of close contact from the CDC,” but the CDC’s guidance that students do not need to be quarantined if both are wearing masks has been on their site since at least July 9, before school started in Alachua County.

The guidance continues to exempt asymptomatic vaccinated students and those who recovered from COVID-19 in the past 3 months from quarantine and adds, “The new guidelines apply ONLY to students who have contact with another student who has COVID. They do NOT apply if either the person with COVID or the contact is an adult. They also do not apply if students have symptoms. Any student with symptoms or who is waiting for COVID test results should remain at home.”

The Florida Department of Health (FDOH) updated its guidelines for quarantine on September 22. Alachua County Public Schools’ new guidelines are closer to the FDOH guidelines but do not fully provide the parental choice on quarantine that is specified in the FDOH rule: “Schools shall allow parents or legal guardians the authority to choose how their child receives education after having direct contact with an individual that is positive for COVID-19.” The FDOH guidance also does not permit schools to have different rules for masked and unmasked students.

Yesterday a group of parents represented by attorney Jeff Childers sent a demand letter to ACPS, asking them to “immediately cease and desist from the enforcement of its unlawful defiance of the Department of Health’s guidances related to quarantine procedures and providing parents with an opt-out of the masking policy at their ‘sole discretion.’”

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