Mississippi’s largest school district is now following updated protocols about COVID-19 quarantines for its students, after action at a specially called DeSoto County Schools (DCS) District Board of Education meeting Tuesday afternoon.
The action comes after quarantine limitations were adjusted by the Mississippi State Department of Health, or MSDH.
Instead of having to be out of school for a full 14-day period, the quarantine length of time has been reduced by MSDH and DCS is following suit, said Supt. Cory Uselton.
“School districts have the option of allowing students to return to school after seven days with a negative RT-PCR test or after 10 days without testing,” Uselton said. “We want our parents to be able to take advantage of these options while still monitoring their child for symptoms as they continue throughout the 14-day process.”
While the Centers for Disease Control earlier adjusted its quarantine protocols, the MSDH had not fully accepted the change until now and DCS needed the state’s acceptance before they could move forward.
“While the 14-day quarantine period was very challenging for families, we appreciate everyone’s support as we continue to follow quarantine protocols from the Mississippi State Department of Health,” Uselton said.
Under the new protocols, a quarantine can now end after Day 10 without testing and if no symptoms related to coronavirus have been reported.
The other option is that if testing is available, a quarantine can end after seven days if an RT-PCR test comes back negative and there are no COVID-19-related symptoms.
RT-PCR tests detect the virus’s genetic material, and is different from antigen tests that detect specific proteins on the surface of the virus.
The test must be done within 48 hours before the quarantine was to end. The quarantine still must go through at least seven days.
If testing is available, a quarantine can end after the seventh day if an RT-PCR diagnostic specimen is negative and if no symptoms were reported during daily monitoring.
Individuals must continue to adhere to mask use and physical distancing through Day 14 and if any symptoms develop, they should immediately self-isolate and receive testing for COVID-19.
A negative test collected prior to 5-7 days should not be used to determine modification of quarantine.