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Childcare setting quarantine rules change for vaccinated staff, children

Posted January 14, 2022 1:43 p.m. EST
Updated January 14, 2022 2:46 p.m. EST

FILE — Students in a pre-kindergarten class eat lunch at Brookhaven Elementary in Morgantown, W.Va., Oct. 12, 2021. A coalition of religious groups is waging an intensive lobbying effort to remove a nondiscrimination provision from President Biden’s ambitious prekindergarten and child care plans, fearing it would disqualify their programs from receiving a huge new infusion of federal money. (Christopher Jones/The New York Times)

If your child is vaccinated, they may not have to stay home from childcare after being exposed to someone with COVID-19, according to new guidance released Thursday from the North Carolina Department of Health and Human Services.

The new rules involve quarantine time in childcare setting, which have had rules that have kept many households in quarantine for 14-day periods.

The new rules apply to adults and children fully vaccinated who come in contact with someone with COVID-19. For adults 18 years and older, a booster shot is required to be considered completely vaccinated. For those 5 to 17 years of age, booster shots are not required to be considered fully vaccinated.

People 5 years and older who are fully vaccinated can go to childcare as long as they don't have symptoms. People should test five days after their last exposure. In addition, a well-fitting mask is required to be worn when around others for 10 days from the last close contact they had with a COVID positive person.

Things change if you have COVID-19 symptoms or test positive for COVID-19. Regardless of age of vaccination status, these adults and children must stay home for five days after the first day of symptoms or, if they have no symptoms, the day of their COVID test.

A person may return in five days if they have no symptoms or symptoms are improving and have been fever free for 24 hours without use of fever reducing medications, but the person must continue to wear a mask for an additional five days to reduce the risk of infecting others.

People who are unable to wear a mask, including children under the age of 2, cannot return to childcare for 10 days after the first day of symptoms or date of their COVID test.

Quarantine rules have also changed for people wearing masks when exposed to a COVID-19 positive person. Regardless of vaccination status, a person will not have to quarantine from a child care setting if the proper mask protocols were followed. That means both the COVID positive person and the possibly infected person each wore well-fitting masks covering the nose and mouth at all times.

If masks were not worn by both people and if the person is unvaccinated, some quarantine rules remain.

People who are not vaccinated and come in contact with someone with COVID-19 must stay home from childcare for five days following the last known exposure. They can return if there are no symptoms, but must continue to mask for an additional five days to minimize risk of infecting others.

People who are unable to wear a mask, including children under the age of 2, cannot return to child care for 10 days after the last day of exposure.

Unvaccinated members of a household with a person who has COVID-19 will need to stay home for at least five days after their last exposure to the person with COVID-19. They also must mask for an additional five days.

Household members are not considered exposed once the COVID-19 positive person in their household has completed their isolation period. That would be five days if no symptoms or symptoms are improving, even if they are within the 10 days since their last positive test or symptom onset.

Quarantine rules were also lifted for people who come in close contact with a COVID-19 individual, have no symptoms and have had COVID-19 within the last 90 days. Individuals in this group do not need to stay home, but should still wear a well-fitting mask around others for 10 days from the date of last close contact.

Previous rules required a quarantine of 14 days and, in some cases, negative COVID-19 tests before a child could return.