Department of Elementary and Secondary Education Update on Quarantine Guidance for Close Contacts
Dear Local Public Health Colleagues,
The following update to the quarantine guidance for close contacts was posted by the Department of Elementary and Secondary Education and approved by the Executive Office of Health and Human Services after consultation with the Governor’s Medical Advisory Board on COVID-19 and other medical advisors. This updated guidance is effective immediately!
Close contacts who were exposed to a COVID-19 positive individual in the classroom or on the bus while both individuals were masked do not have to quarantine unless they were within 3 feet of distance of the COVID-19 positive individual for a total of 15 minutes during a 24-hour period. This does not apply if someone was identified as a close contact outside of the classroom or bus (e.g., in sports, extra-curriculars, lunch, etc.) or if masks are not worn by both persons at the time of the exposure. All other close contacts must follow the standard protocol for when a close contact may return to school.
The full guidance is posted on the COVID-19 guidance page https://www.doe.mass.edu/covid19/on-desktop.html and available for download at https://www.doe.mass.edu/covid19/on-desktop/protocols/ “Protocols for Responding to COVID-19 Scenarios — July 17, 2020 (Updated September 14, November 23, and December 16, 2020, and April 20, 2021) “
As a reminder, DPH defines close contact as:
- Being within 6 feet of a COVID-19 case (someone who has tested positive) for a total of 15 minutes during a 24-hour period. Multiple brief or transitory interactions (less than a minute) throughout the day are unlikely to result in 15 minutes of cumulative contact and do not meet the definition of close contact. Being in the same room as an individual if you are consistently separated by 6 feet of distance does not meet the definition of a close contact.
- Close contact can occur while being with, caring for, living with, visiting, or sharing a healthcare waiting area or room with a COVID-19 case, OR
- Having direct physical contact with the person (e.g. hugging or kissing), OR
- Sharing eating or drinking utensils, OR
- Having direct contact with infectious secretions of a COVID-19 case (e.g., being coughed on) while not wearing recommended personal protective equipment.