Parents of school-aged children in Florida will now get to decide whether or not to have their kids quarantine or go back to class after they have been exposed to someone with COVID-19, as long as they are asymptomatic.
On Wednesday, Florida's new surgeon general Joseph Ladapo — who was appointed into his role a day prior — ended a previous regulation that required students to quarantine off-campus for a minimum of four days if they were exposed to someone with the illness, according to the Associated Press.
Under the new rules set forth by Ladapo, students who have been exposed can continue going to school "without restrictions or disparate treatment," the outlet reported, so long as they don't exhibit any symptoms of the illness.
Should students and their parents feel that quarantining is necessary, however, they may do so, but for no longer than a total of seven days, given that they do not get sick, the AP reported.
"Quarantining healthy students is incredibly damaging for their educational advancement," Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis said during a news conference. "It's also disruptive for families. We are going to be following a symptoms-based approach."
"Bottom line is healthy kids have the right to be in school. Parents have rights to have their healthy kids in school," DeSantis, 43, later added. "Parents also have the right to be notified if there's a case in a school and their kid may have been in that class or around. If they think they should keep them out, then by all means."
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Currently, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommends that unvaccinated individuals quarantine for a total of 14 days if they come within 6 feet of someone who has tested positive for COVID-19.
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People who are fully vaccinated, the CDC states, don't need to quarantine after contact with someone with COVID-19 unless they have symptoms. Fully vaccinated people should still get tested 3 to 5 days after their exposure, however, according to the organization.
The CDC also currently recommends that students wear masks when they are indoors and they should also remain at least 3 feet in distance from one another while in classrooms. Mask-wearing has been a hot topic in Florida, with the Republican governor strongly opposing face coverings.
A large amount of school-aged children — those that are age 12 and under — are currently not eligible to receive any COVID-19 vaccine. That soon may change though after Pfizer/BioNTech said earlier this week that its COVID-19 vaccine is good to go for children ages 5 to 11 after its own study. It now has plans to seek approval from the Food and Drug Administration and other agencies soon.
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