Governor changes quarantine protocols

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photo by Alexis Madlang

On Sept. 22, Gov. Ron DeSantis changed school districts’ quarantine protocol. Similar to masks being optional, parents are able to choose if their child quarantines or not if they are aymptomatic.

As part of the ongoing COVID-19 war last week, Gov. Ron DeSantis altered the state’s quarantine policy for school districts. 

On Sept. 22, the day after DeSantis named him surgeon general, Dr. Joseph Ladapo signed a new protocol declaring that parents were now able to decide if their child, if asymptomatic, should quarantine or not after exposure to COVID-19. 

Under this new guideline, students who were exposed but show no symptoms and choose not to quarantine can go back on campus without any restrictions. Those who choose to quarantine are only allowed to isolate for no more than seven days if they are asymptomatic.

“Students who are out on quarantine may return to school with parent permission if they are not showing any symptoms of COVID-19,” principal Robert Frasca said. 

According to the Florida Health Department, if a student tests positive or shows symptoms, they must quarantine for 10 days after showing symptoms or testing positive. This has been the rule for 11 months and did not change with the new protocols. Students may also return when they are asymptomatic, able to provide negative test results to their school or have a permission letter from a medical professional. With a permission letter written out by a medical doctor, osteopathic physician or advanced registered nurse practitioner, students may also return to campus.

Although all local districts are following the new policy on quarantining, the battle continues over mask mandates. Seminole County is following the governor’s orders, allowing students to opt-out of wearing a mask with a parent note. Orange and Brevard counties are requiring all students to wear masks, unless they are excused in writing by a medical doctor. Orange County policy has this policy in place until Oct. 30, despite threats of reduced funding from the state. 

In Seminole County, administration will continue contact tracing and contacting parents to make a decision about their child’s isolation options.

“We notify parents when their student has been exposed to someone who tested positive,” Frasca said. “The parent will let us know if they choose to quarantine their student as a result.”

Masks remain optional for students while teachers are still required to wear one when teaching their classes. This policy has remained the same since the start of the school year. What has also remained the same has been the school’s commitment to contact tracing. Administration still has to determine if students were in close contact with each other. 

“As of right now, nothing has changed in the contact tracing and quarantine process for faculty and staff,” Frasca said.

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