Omicron is breaking records in Broward County Public Schools.
On Thursday, 5,400 students — a pandemic record — did not join their classmates in school because they had either come into close contact with someone who has COVID-19, or they themselves had tested positive.
So what happens to students in those two categories?
In Broward, children who test positive for COVID-19 are supposed to isolate at home for 10 days. However, if they test negative during that 10-day period and they’re asymptomatic for 24 hours, they can come back to school. Or, if they get a doctor’s note saying they’re not contagious, they can come back to school.
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“Trying to make sure that we’re minimizing spread and that we’re taking care of the whole community, so it’s not just the individual, but it’s also the other individuals within that classroom,” said Broward Superintendent Dr. Vickie Cartwright. “Omicron is not selective.”
However, the policy in Miami-Dade County Public Schools has fewer options: if your child tests positive for COVID-19, he or she must isolate for 10 days even if they have no symptoms and even if they test negative during that time period.
“We understand that it’s frustrating for parents with all of these different rules, but if a person tests positive, we want to make sure, as much as possible, we can maintain a safe environment,” said Brenda Wilder, Miami-Dade’s director of student health services.
If a child comes into close contact with a COVID-infected person but has not tested positive, by state law, if that child has no symptoms, he or she can go back to school without a quarantine period.
Cartwright is encouraging all healthy kids to get back into school. There were a total of 30,000 absences Thursday in her school district.
“Even if you’re COVID positive, if you’re fever-free for 24 hours and your symptoms are lessening, and you have a negative test, you can come back, so you do have that option. However, if your child is symptomatic and has a fever and has that positive test, it’s extremely important for that child to isolate,” Cartwright said.
She said it's also extremely important for kids to be physically on campus. Many have not yet recovered from the "COVID slide" of learning losses, and getting back to speed academically depends on getting back into the classroom.
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