For kids exposed to COVID-19, school quarantine procedures vary greatly for unvaccinated and vaccinated students.
Now with the new FDA approval of the Pfizer vaccine for kids aged 5 to 11, those quarantine rules are expected to remain the same.
“We determine who the close contacts of that kid or staff member were and then all of those people are required to complete a 10 day quarantine. The exception to that is if after seven days you have no symptoms and you take a PCR test you can come back early,” said Sheila Miller, the Public Information Officer for the Redmond School District.
Vaccinated kids have other rules.
“And the other exception is anyone who is fully vaccinated does not have to quarantine,” Miller said.
That’s right, vaccinated kids are allowed to attend school after a close contact, unless they develop symptoms.
Those 10 days mean time away from the classroom but also time away from school-sanctioned activities like clubs and sports.
The Redmond School District closely monitors which students are quarantined and not allowed to be on school grounds.
“So there’s a way for us to control that in the schools,” Miller said. “Whether families choose to obey a quarantine outside of school is up to them but we really encourage them to take it seriously.”
Nurses reach out to affected families with the news, while teachers and staff check up on quarantined children to fill them in on school work, but time away from the classroom is time usually spent away from learning.
Some school districts in the Central Oregon area think the option of a pediatric vaccine is unlikely to change quarantine rates.
“We don’t have a real high rate of vaccination amongst students in our school district overall so really the quarantine numbers are fairly consistent from the elementary to middle to high school,” said Jason Carr, the Public Information Officer at the Crook County School District.
Yet the vaccine is still the best way to keep learning on track.
“Our position is that you know getting vaccinated will help reduce the chance of transmission in the schools,” he said. “It will reduce your chance of getting quarantined and missing days of work as a staff member or you know school as a student. Otherwise, that is a family choice.”