On Friday, December 4, the PA Department of Health (DOH) revised its quarantine guidelines for those who have been exposed to Covid-19. The revised guidelines apply to high school, intergenerational, and adult education programs.
The new options allow the following:
- Quarantine may end after Day 10 without a Covid test IF “no symptoms have been reported during daily monitoring.”
- Quarantine may end after Day 7, following a negative diagnostic test. The sample for such a test must be collected no earlier than Day 5 of quarantine and the individual must remain asymptomatic.
- Test specimens must be collected and tested within 48 hours prior to the date an individual’s plans to shorten quarantine. For example, if a staff member or student wants to end quarantine at the end of Day 8, their specimen must have been collected no earlier than the end of Day 6.
- No quarantine may end earlier than the end of Day 7.
The DOH recommendations to K-12 schools specify that, while schools may shorten quarantine periods, individuals must continue self-monitoring symptoms for the full 14 days. They must also strictly adhere to masking, physical distancing, and other social protocols.
Parents, students, or staff members interested in shortening their quarantine should seek testing no earlier than Day 5 and should provide the required negative test results to the school First Aid Nurse or Administrator PRIOR to returning to school. The negative results should include – Name, Date of Birth, Test Date, Medical Provider Information, and Test Result.
The original 14-day quarantine was based on the original estimates of the Covid-19 incubation period. Those original estimates have not changed. According to a DOH statement, the shortened duration “may increase the public’s willingness to adhere to public health recommendations.” DOH maintains that the “most protective quarantine period remains at 14 days post exposure” but now is not requiring that full duration as long as individuals meet the revised requirements.