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Where We Are Now
Closure numbers this week were similar to the last few weeks (the up-to-date map can be found at the top of our School Opening Tracker page). This week we look at the percentage of schools affected by closures across individual states year to date and frame the types of quarantine modifications we are seeing.
To date we have tracked 624 districts affected by closures (up from 605) across 2,359 schools. Closure events have reached a plateau the last few weeks. Again, note a "closure event" is either an entire district closing all it's schools (that would be one closure event) or an individual school closing within a district:
This week we look at the percentage of schools that have closed for in-person at some point this year as a percentage of total schools in a given state. As we noted in our September 27th blog post, last year we observed that over the course of the Fall and Winter of 2020/21 differences in regional Covid 19 rates affected school openings, and it remains early in the current school year. That said, it is worth noting the success many states that had low in-person indexes last school year have had in opening schools to date this Fall:
In our September 20th blog post we noted four primary methods being used to identify close contacts for potential quarantine. (Note that some states, such as Florida, allow parents to opt-out of quarantining asymptomatic children). This week we wanted to break down the current continuum of rules for quarantine rules for asymptomatic close contacts we see across the US, in order of how restrictive they are:
The most stringent remains a 10-14 day quarantine for close contacts, with no opportunity to test out.
Next up is an at-home quarantine allowing for testing out during the 5-8 day period.
Then there is a "test to stay" program that allows students to return to school if they agree to be tested daily. In mask-optional regions we often see these students being required to mask while at school during this period.
Finally, we have seen examples of masked "close contacts"- inside of three feet - don't need to test out but can remain in school if they wear a mask.
Vaccinated students are often excluded from close contact definitions, and we are seeing an increasing number of cases where a student who has had Covid 19 in the previous 90 days is also excluded from close contact rules.
In our October 11th report we outlined some test-to-stay programs in the Northeast. Here are examples from other parts of the US:
In California, Long Beach is implementing a modified quarantine plan where exposed, asymptomatic students attend school, are tested twice weekly, and must refrain from extracurriculars. Alameda County, CA outlines both modified quarantine and "shortened" quarantine, an option where at-home quarantine can be reduced to 8 days if a student is tested by Day 5. Stanislaus, CA outlines modified quarantines and also references California rules that vaccinated individuals are not subject to quarantines after exposure.
In Fargo, ND schools masked asymptomatic close contacts don't need to quarantine (or test) at all, and neither do vaccinated close contacts. Contacts that weren't wearing masks can attend school if they agree to test every other day.
In Maricopa County, AZ both Gilbert Schools, AZ, and Deer Valley Unified School District provide quarantine exceptions for both vaccinated students and any student who has had Covid 19 in the previous 90 days. Gilbert does not mention any form of shortened quarantine while Deer Valley references the ability to test out of at-home quarantine by Day 8.
This overview from Whatcom County, WA outlines a test-to-stay program that tests vaccinated close contacts (while they attend school) but does not require testing of close contacts who have had Covid 19 in the last 90 days. There is also a reference, that we see in a number of places, to students in a test-to-stay program being required to quarantine while at home outside of school hours.
An Ohio law restricting districts from discriminating between vaccinated and unvaccinated students results in Lakota school district eliminating quarantine exemptions for vaccinated students. "Beginning in October, the BCGHD will shift quarantine protocols to align with House Bill 244, meaning that both the close contact AND the COVID-positive individual must be properly wearing a face covering to avoid quarantine, regardless of vaccination status," reads their guidelines.
Marietta, GA, in this announcement removing their mask mandate, outlines a "test to stay" protocol with seven days of daily testing.
In Michigan Swartz Creek schools have an in-school testing option for close contacts, with the added detail that affected students are not allowed to take school transportation on days when they are in the test-to-stay protocols.