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US Florida makes quarantine optional for students exposed to COVID-19

05:05  23 september  2021
05:05  23 september  2021 Source:   thehill.com

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Florida's newly appointed surgeon general signed new protocols on Wednesday allowing parents to decide whether or not to quarantine their children or send them to school after being exposed to someone with COVID-19.

a person sitting at a table in front of a building: Florida makes quarantine optional for students exposed to COVID-19 © Getty Florida makes quarantine optional for students exposed to COVID-19

Joseph Ladapo, who was sworn in on Tuesday, got rid of a previous rule that required students to quarantine at home for at least four days if they were exposed to someone with COVID-19, The Associated Press reported.

Under his new rules, students may continue attending school in-person "without restrictions or disparate treatment," as long as they are asymptomatic.

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"Quarantining healthy students is incredibly damaging for their educational advancement," Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis said on Wednesday. "It's also disruptive for families. We are going to be following a symptoms-based approach."

Andrew Spar, president of the Florida Education Association, spoke out against the state's new rules, the AP reported.

"Limiting districts' options and blocking them from following CDC guidelines is not in the best interest of the health of our students, employees or families," Spar said.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommends unvaccinated people quarantine for 14 days if they have been within six feet of someone who has tested positive for COVID-19 for at least 15 minutes - though it makes exceptions in schools if the contact stayed at least three feet away from the infected individual and both were properly masked the entire time.

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Most school-aged children, those under the age of 12, are still not eligible to get vaccinated against COVID-19. Though children are believed to be less likely to develop severe cases of COVID-19, health experts have warned that they are just as capable of spreading the virus.

Ladapo's appointment as Florida's top public health official sparked criticism from DeSantis' opponents over Ladapo's opposition to vaccine and mask mandates.

"Instead of going with a trusted advocate for science, DeSantis is once again playing games with peoples' lives by appointing someone who has trafficked anti-vaccine and anti-mask rhetoric," said Democratic National Committee spokesperson Adonna Biel.

DeSantis' spokesperson Christina Pushaw defended the hire. "Like Governor DeSantis, Dr. Ladapo is not against vaccines or masks - he is against vaccine mandates and forced-masking," she said.

"The state should be promoting good health," Ladapo said during a press conference on Tuesday, "and vaccination isn't the only path to that. It's been treated almost like a religion, and that's just senseless."

How some school districts are trying to keep kids out of quarantine .
School districts from Utah to Massachusetts, have adopted a new program called “Test to Stay." Coronavirus outbreaks have led to hundreds temporary school closures across the country, with tens of thousands of students forced to quarantine, just within the first weeks of school year.

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