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Schools and universities across Va. release updated COVID-19 guidelines, relaxing quarantine and masking policies

Tara Matise teaches her prekindergarten students virtually in her classroom prepared ahead of planned in-person learning at Nebinger Elementary School in Philadelphia. Photo taken March 19, 2021.
AP Photo/Matt Rourke
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AP
Tara Matise teaches her prekindergarten students virtually in her classroom prepared ahead of planned in-person learning at Nebinger Elementary School in Philadelphia. Photo taken March 19, 2021.

New guidance by the CDC no longer recommends that people exposed to COVID-19 quarantine at home, as long as they are asymptomatic and test negative. Public schools in Virginia and universities have recently released their own recommendations for students and teachers; they too are relaxing several precautions.

Last month, before the CDC updated its policies, the Virginia Department of Health (VDH) released new guidance for children in public school and child care. One of the biggest changes this school year is that students no longer will need to quarantine at home if they’ve been exposed to someone who tests positive, as long as they do not have symptoms of COVID-19. The guidelines, which were written in collaboration with the Governor’s office and the state Department of Education, say that masking is allowed, but not required in Virginia public schools.

If a student is exposed to someone with COVID, a school can offer them a rapid test, if one is available. If a student tests positive, they can return to school five days after they develop symptoms. The VDH asks that these students either wear a mask, or take a COVID test with a negative result, before they return to school.

Universities across Virginia also released their own guidelines this week. Both Radford University and Virginia Tech are no longer providing housing for students who need to isolate after testing positive. Students will need to make their own arrangements with roommates or family members if they do test positive or develop symptoms.

Both Universities, as well as the University of Virginia and UVA Wise, strongly recommend, but do not require, all students and staff to be fully vaccinated and boosted for COVID-19.

Masks are not required in most university settings. In health and wellness centers on all campuses, students and staff are asked to wear a mask.

These updated policies at schools across the state are similar to the guidelines released by the CDC on Thursday. The agency said that one of the main reasons they’re relaxing guidance is because more Americans have developed immunity.

The agency said communities may need to revise their safety precautions if an outbreak occurs, or if hospitalization rates for people with COVID-19 increase.

Roxy Todd is Radio IQ's New River Valley Bureau Chief.