Quarantine period shortened for child care centers if class wears masks

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The Oregon Department of Education Early Learning Division on Tuesday announced it was adjusting guidance for quarantine and isolation periods from 10 days to five days in licensed child care settings only if an entire classroom or group wears masks.

The change was made after the Centers for Disease Control announced new guidance for child care settings on January 28, according to a press release.

The Early Learning Division, in partnership with the Oregon Health Authority (OHA), highly recommends all individuals ages two and older wear masks.

All individuals who are kindergarten-age and older are required to wear masks. If an entire classroom or group does not wear masks, quarantine and isolation remains at 10 days.

“We know the 10-day period has been difficult for families to manage and has affected business operations for providers,” said Oregon Early Learning System Director Alyssa Chatterjee. “This adjustment should give greater flexibility to help respond to COVID-19 cases in care, while still keeping a focus on safety.”

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There are several factors that influence the difference between child care and school guidance.

“Protection through a COVID-19 vaccine is not yet available for the youngest children,” said Oregon Health Authority Health Officer and State Epidemiologist Dr. Dean Sidelinger. “While masks are recommended for all individuals two years old and up, there are child care sites where children under age five do not wear masks.

“The nature of interactions in these settings results in prolonged and often close contact. Masking helps to decrease the risk of spread and allow for a shorter return after illness or exposure into these settings with low rates of vaccination overall, especially with the high amounts of community spread throughout Oregon,” he said.

Other key child care guidance points include the following:

  • Individuals who are up to date with vaccination/booster or have had COVID-19 in the last 90 days do not need to quarantine. They should monitor for symptoms.
  • If an entire classroom or group does not mask, children and staff may return after seven days with a negative test taken between days five and seven of quarantine. Decisions to shorten quarantine should be made in consultation with the Local Public Health Authority.
  • Child care programs may not completely eliminate quarantine with negative tests and universal masks at this time. Increasing access to tests for staff and children remains a goal of OHA.

Frequently Asked Questions about isolation and quarantine in child care are posted on the ELD’s “For Providers” webpage and the “For Families” webpage.

Click here to download the updated “Child Care Provider COVID-19 Recommendations and Requirements” guidance document. Child care providers with questions can contact their licensing specialist or email ProviderContact@ode.oregon.gov

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