School COVID-19 quarantine policies cause confusion as students head back to class following Labor Day

As students head back to school Tuesday following the Labor Day holiday, some parents have questions regarding COVID-19 quarantine policies.

"Following the Labor Day break, fully vaccinated, asymptomatic students will be able to return to in-person learning and activities following a simple process that will reduce the time needed to process potential close contacts," said Fairfax County Schools in a policy update last week. "Our goal is to streamline this process so it takes the least amount of time possible to complete while keeping our school community safe."

Before the school year started, Montgomery County Public School guidance stated that if students were exposed to another student who tested positive for COVID-19 -- everyone who may have been exposed or come into contact with that student would need to quarantine for 10 days.

Last week, MCPS spokesperson Gboyinde Onijala told FOX 5's Ayesha Khan that their recently updated guidance on quarantining includes, "unvaccinated students who have been identified as having close contact (less than 3 feet in the classroom, less than 6 feet while eating or outdoors for 15 or more minutes during a 24-hour period) with an individual who is displaying any single symptom of COVID-19, including fever of 100.4 or higher, sore throat, cough, difficulty breathing, diarrhea or vomiting, new onset of severe headache and new onset of loss of taste or smell."

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention offers the following guidance:

- Fully vaccinated close contacts should be referred for COVID-19 testing. If asymptomatic, fully vaccinated close contacts do not need to quarantine at home following an exposure (they can continue to attend school in-person and participate in other activities). In addition to correctly wearing masks in school, they should wear a mask in other indoor public settings for 14 days or until they receive a negative test result.

- Close contacts who are not fully vaccinated should be referred for COVID-19 testing. Regardless of test result, they should quarantine at home for 14 days after exposure. Options to shorten quarantine provide acceptable alternatives of a 10-day quarantine or a 7-day quarantine combined with testing and a negative test result.