ANNAPOLIS, Md. (WJZ) — The Anne Arundel County Health Department on Thursday said it is recommending fully vaccinated students and school staff who are asymptomatic will not have to quarantine after a close contact, in accordance with new CDC guidelines.

Under the suggested protocols, fully vaccinated close contacts should get tested three to five days after being exposed to COVID-19, the agency said. But students and staff without symptoms can continue to attend school in-person and participate in other activities.

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Close contacts will have to properly wear a mask in the classroom and should continue to do so in all indoor public settings for 14 days after being exposed to the virus, the health department said.

“Quarantining is essential to protect students and staff from continued exposure; however, quarantine is disruptive to a child’s learning process,” Dr. Anne Arundel County Health Officer Nilesh Kalyanaraman said. “Fully vaccinated close contacts who are asymptomatic do not
have to quarantine – the best option for protection from disease and avoiding quarantine is vaccination.”

Anne Arundel County Public Schools Superintendent Dr. George Arlotto and administrators ultimately have the final say on adopting this new guidance, and the school system has had constant conversations with the health department about classroom protocols, said Bob Mosier, chief communications officer for Anne Arundel County Public Schools.

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As of Sept. 30, 1,725 students and 35 staff members in Anne Arundel County are quarantining, and there are 204 active student cases and 27 active staff cases, according to Anne Arundel County Public Schools’ COVID-19 data dashboard.

The school system started with quarantine protocols requiring that students and staff stay at home for 14 days after a possible exposure, but the guideline was eventually reduced to 10 days, said Mosier.

Under the new recommendations from the health department, students and staff would only have to quarantine for a week if they test negative five to seven days after a possible exposure.

Kalyanaraman urged parents of students age 12 or older to have their children get vaccinated if they want to stay in the classroom and participate in sports.

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“Get smart and get the shot. That’s how we get ahead of COVID-19 and go to the head of the class,” he said.

CBS Baltimore Staff