Montgomery County Public Schools Outline Changes to Quarantine Guidelines

November 4, 2021

The Maryland Department of Health (MDH) and the Maryland State Department of Education (MSDE) have modified school quarantine guidance. If certain criteria are met, students may not have to quarantine, or may be asked to quarantine for a reduced period of time. This new guidance is expected to reduce the number of Montgomery County Public Schools (MCPS) students required to quarantine and participate in virtual learning. These guidelines become effective Nov. 8, 2021

What Is New:
Based on the guidance from MDH and MSDE, and in collaboration with the Montgomery County Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS), there will now be two categories for no quarantine or a shortened quarantine period for close contacts of an individual who tests positive with COVID-19. Close contacts are individuals who are less than 6 feet of someone who tests positive for a cumulative total of 15 minutes over the course of 24 hours, or less than 3 feet in a classroom setting.

  1. Cases where the infected student and close contacts are wearing masks during the exposure and the exposure was not during a high-risk activity: The close contacts must be enrolled in, or must sign up for, the MCPS COVID-19 screening testing program. As long as they consent to participate in the screening testing program, they can continue to come to school each day. However, they cannot participate in high-risk school-sponsored activities and are expected to still quarantine outside the school setting. The state defines high-risk settings or activities as “indoor or high-contact athletics, and indoor forced exhalation activities, such as singing, exercising, or playing a wind or brass instrument.” Families can enroll in the screening testing program by filling out the form linked here.

  2. All other situations, including when masks are not worn or when the infected individual is an adult: This includes identified close contacts during lunch or for exposure that occurs during high-risk settings or activities. In these cases, unvaccinated close contacts will be required to quarantine for 10 days, but can return to school after day 7 if the close contact submits a negative PCR test taken after day 5 from the last date of exposure. 

What Has Not Changed:
Symptomatic individuals with a positive COVID-19 test must quarantine for 10 days, self-monitor for 14 days, and can only return to schools if free from COVID-19 symptoms, including fever of 100.4 or more, sore throat, cough, difficulty breathing, diarrhea, vomiting and loss of taste or smell. As before, the quarantine guidance only applies to unvaccinated individuals.  Asymptomatic vaccinated individuals will not need to quarantine, as has been the case throughout this school year.

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