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August 22, 2022 

Interim Guidance for COVID-19 Prevention for Students, Teachers and Staff in Child Care, K-12 Schools, and Day Camp Settings 

The Virginia Department of Health (VDH) provides the following updated interim guidance for children, teachers, and staff in child care, K-12 schools, and camp settings. This revised guidance maintains that quarantine is no longer routinely recommended for asymptomatic individuals after exposure to COVID-19 infected individuals. 

In general, masks are not routinely recommended in these settings, indoors or outdoors, except when returning to school/child care after isolation as specified below. Any individual who wishes to continue to mask, including those who face higher risk from COVID-19, may do so as an option. Masking is never recommended in these settings while the individual is eating, drinking, sleeping, or for children under the age of 2. 

Isolation and Quarantine Guidance: 

Symptomatic persons (regardless of vaccination status) should begin isolation at home and undergo testing as recommended by their healthcare providers. The day symptoms began should be counted as day 0. 

Persons who test positive (regardless of vaccination status) should isolate themselves at home for at least 5 days. If they are asymptomatic or symptoms are resolving and they have been fever-free for 24 hours, they may return to programming after Day 5. 

O If the individual is able to mask, they should do so through Day 10 OR 

o If the individual is unable or unwilling to mask during this time (including children under age 2), VDH recommends persons follow the CDC “test based strategy” ,which now includes two negative tests after 5 days of isolation, in addition to being fever-free for 24 hours and with other symptoms improving. The first test should be on day 6, the second test should be 48 hours after the first test. 

o Schools with the resources to do so may consider offering rapid testing on-site to symptomatic individuals and/or distributing at-home rapid antigen test kits for testing at home. 

o Students or staff who come to school or child care with symptoms or develop symptoms while at school or ECE program should be asked to wear a well-fitting mask while in the building and be sent home and pursue medical evaluation and/or testing as appropriate. Some schools may have testing resources available at school. Symptomatic people should be separated from others as much as possible; children should be supervised by a designated caregiver who is wearing a well-fitting mask or respirator until  they leave school grounds.

For persons who have had recent confirmed or suspected exposure to an infected person (regardless of vaccination status), quarantine is no longer recommended for K12 School  and Early Care and Education settings. These individuals may continue to attend programming  as long as they remain asymptomatic. 

o Masks: Students/staff that attend programming during the 10 days after exposure may choose to wear a mask around others indoors. The date of last exposure to the person with COVID-19 is considered Day 0. 

o Testing: Persons who have had recent exposure may consider testing for COVID-19 ≥ 5 days after exposure (or sooner, if they are symptomatic), irrespective of their vaccination status. Schools may use available VDH testing resources to support this testing. Test to Stay is no longer routinely recommended. Schools that choose to implement Test to Stay programs can contact VDH for more information on available testing resources and/or guidance. 

● If the school or facility is experiencing an outbreak of COVID-19 that has been difficult to control or is unusual in size or scope, regional and local epidemiologists may apply professional judgment and recommend traditional quarantine and isolation standards be applied until the situation is stabilized.


Recommendations to support and protect children’s emotional well-being during the pandemic

Create a safe physical and emotional environment by practicing the 3 R’s: Reassurance, Routines, and Regulation.

First, adults should reassure children about their safety and the safety of loved ones, and tell them that it is adults’ job to ensure their safety. Second, adults should maintain routines to provide children with a sense of safety and predictability (e.g., regular bedtimes and meals, daily schedules for learning and play). And third, adults should support children’s development of regulation. When children are stressed, their bodies respond by activating their stress response systems. To help them manage these reactions, it is important to both validate their feelings (e.g., “I know that this might feel scary or overwhelming”) and encourage them to engage in activities that help them self-regulate (e.g., exercise, deep breathing, mindfulness or meditation activities, regular routines for sleeping and eating). In addition, it is essential to both children’s emotional and physical well-being to ensure that families can meet their basic needs (e.g., food, shelter, clothing).

Increase children’s self-efficacy.

Self-efficacy is the sense of having agency or control—an especially important trait during times of fear and uncertainty. Children often feel more in control when they can play an active role in helping themselves, their families, and their communities. For example, children can help by following safety guidelines (e.g., washing their hands), preparing for home confinement (e.g., helping to cook and freeze food), or volunteering in the community (e.g., writing letters or creating art for older adults or sick friends, sharing extra supplies with a neighbor).

Emphasize strengths, hope, and positivity.

Children need to feel safe, secure, and positive about their present and future. Adults can help by focusing children’s attention on stories about how people come together, find creative solutions to difficult problems, and overcome adversity during the epidemic. Talking about these stories can be healing and reassuring to children and adults alike.

Read the full article here:

children mental health