State shortens minimum COVID-19 quarantine at schools to five days

State officials adopted federal COVID-19 guidelines for schools that shorten the minimum length of quarantine from 10 to five days for students and staff members Tuesday.

The move, which followed a review by the Illinois Department of Public Health and State Board of Education, should ease staff shortages at schools hard hit by the highly infectious omicron strain of COVID-19.

It also puts the onus on school districts to quickly evaluate the status of students and teachers currently at home because of testing positive or being a close contact.

The U.S. Centers for Disease Control updated the policy in December for the general public but didn't provide specific recommendations for schools until Jan. 6.

The updated rules state that students and staff members must "stay home for a minimum of five days and a maximum of 10

days" after COVID-19 symptoms appear or from the date a positive test was collected.

Also, they must "continue to wear a mask around others for five more days after returning to school."

Close contacts of people with COVID-19 required to stay at home will also have the time reduced to five days.

Asked about the change, Illinois Education Association President Kathi Griffin said the union is concerned about the large numbers of teachers contracting COVID-19.

"We need to be making sure everything we are doing is in the best interest of our educators and our students," Griffin said in a statement Wednesday. "Their safety is always our first priority. The number of educators working in our schools continues to decrease, resulting in a teacher and education employee shortage that is at a crisis level."

More information on the policy is available at

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