Shortly after a new surgeon general was appointed in Florida, the Department of Health has released new rules regarding kids and COVID-19 in schools. The rule cites concerns over large numbers of students being quarantined in Florida schools.
The emergency rule signed by Dr. Joseph Ladapo outlines what kids and parents should do if exposed to COVID-19, as well as protocols for schools to follow.
“There have been several studies that have shown that when kids are taken out of school, and when they’re kept out of school, it’s extremely harmful," said Florida Surgeon General Dr. Joseph Ladapo.
Perhaps the biggest change from previous guidance is in reference to kids who have been exposed to COVID-19 but are asymptomatic. In that case, parents have the option to either allow the child to attend school and extracurricular activities without restrictions as long as they remain asymptomatic, or quarantine the student for no more than seven days from the last direct contact with the person who tested positive.
However, if a student does begin exhibiting symptoms, that student will be required to quarantine until they receive a negative test and are asymptomatic, or until 10 days have passed since symptom onset, and the student's symptoms are improving.
“Let's focus on symptoms, let's have a safe environment, if people are coming to school sick, let's make sure that they’re back home,” said Governor Ron DeSantis.
The order also mentions that schools may require masks for students as long as there is an opt-out option at the sole discretion of the parent/guardian.
USF Professor of Public Health Dr. Marissa Levine believes parents should have the right to decide what is best for their students, but she says it's important schools work collaboratively with parents in order to provide them with all the information they need.
“The parent does know their child the best, but they don’t know what’s happening with other children or staff or teachers in the school,” said Dr. Marissa Levine, Professor of Public Health at the University of South Florida.
She also expresses the importance for parents to take seriously when a school lets you know your student has been exposed, and the importance of letting the school know if your student is exposed outside of school.
“There are students and others in school whose immune systems are not as strong, even if they could be vaccinated the vaccine might not have taken so well, and so you have to have some awareness of what else is going on, who else your student is around, and then make the right decision,” said Dr. Levine.
Bottom line, she says if your child is sick, keep them home.
You can read the full text of the emergency rule below: