Quarantine period reduced for close contacts in schools


MILA BARRY, Editor-in-chief

Following updates to federal and state guidelines, the protocol for close contacts in Gloucester Schools has changed. 

Students now must quarantine for a minimum of only 8 days, as long as they present a negative test and no symptoms. Alternatively, those who do not opt for a test (and have no symptoms) can come back into the building after 10 days. Both of these scenarios assume the contact engages in “active monitoring” for two weeks after their potential exposure. 

Previously exposed students and staff members had to isolate for 14 days regardless of their test result. That period now only applies to individuals who are either 1) negative, but symptomatic or 2) unable to conduct “active monitoring”.  

The rationale for these changes is that residual risk of disease development is pretty miniscule. Whether you quarantine for 8 days or 14 doesn’t make a drastic difference. The danger is slightly increased though; residual risk is about 5 percent for 8 day isolation versus less than 1 percent for 14. 

Click here for the official information outlining quarantine rules. 

Cases in Gloucester’s Schools remain relatively low (13 across all schools), but the danger of exposure increases as cases have risen significantly in the city since Thanksgiving.  

According to a recent email from Superintendent Ben Lummis, the school-by-school breakdown appears as follows:

Pre-school – 0 active cases

Beeman – 1 active case

East Gloucester – 1 active case

Plum Cove – 0 active cases

Veterans’ – 2 active cases

West Parish – 0 active cases

O’Maley – 1 active case

Gloucester High – 8 active cases

Remote Learning Academy PK-12:  2 active cases

School officials maintain that there is no data that suggests that pathogen transmission is occurring in school. 

“The Gloucester Department of Health is reporting that most of the transmission is happening within homes and families,” said Lummis. 

As such, there are no plans to transition to remote learning preceding or following the holiday break. 

“Based on the daily review of data, our schools remain significantly below the established thresholds for positive cases in individual classes, grade levels, and schoolwide that require mass testing or school closure,” Lummis said. “Staying in school has helped our students and our community in so many ways that we are all doing our best to keep them open.”