The southeastern U.S. state of Florida says parents or legal guardians can decide whether or not to quarantine their children if they have been exposed to someone who tested positive for COVID-19.
Dr. Joseph Lapado, the state’s newly appointed surgeon general, signed new guidelines Thursday that will allow students to continue attending in-person classes “without restrictions or disparate treatment” as long as they have no symptoms of the virus. The parent or legal guardian can decide to keep their child at home for seven days from the date of last contact with someone who tested positive.
The new guidelines replace a previous one that mandated students enter quarantine for at least four days after being exposed to someone who had tested positive. It does maintain the previous rule that students who test positive either quarantine for 10 days, test negative for the disease and remain free of symptoms or show a doctor’s note giving them permission before returning to school.
Republican Gov. Ron DeSantis defended the new guidelines during a press conference Wednesday.
“Quarantining healthy students is incredibly damaging for their educational achievement,” DeSantis said.
“It’s also disruptive for families,” he added, saying the state would follow a “symptoms-based approach.”
The new guidelines run counter to recommendations issued by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control for unvaccinated people to isolate for 14 days if they have been within 2 meters of someone who has tested positive for COVID-19.
The new guidelines also prompted a judge to dismiss a court challenge brought by five local school districts against the state’s ban on local school districts to impose mandatory face masks. The DeSantis administration has withheld funding to school districts and withheld salaries of local superintendents and school board members who went against the governor’s order banning such mandates.
Some information for this report came from the Associated Press.