Federal health agencies insisted in the early days of the COVID-19 pandemic that a 14-day quarantine was prudent for anyone who had contact with an individual who tested positive for the virus. Local health agencies and school systems followed suit. Since then, the general belief has been that a shorter period is adequate, easing the pressure associated with disengaging from even distanced activities or hybrid learning. An article just published by JAMA Network supports the latter view, based on study of a program in Alachua County, FL to test students on day 9 following contact with a confirmed COVID-19 case. Assuming the student is negative for the virus, they can return to their usual activities on day 10. Between August 1 and November 30, 2020, there were 495 students tested for SARS-CoV-2; 52% of the tests were positive. The researchers then looked at the 2,189 reported contacts of those students; 10% of those contacts tested positive for the virus on day 3 since the most recent contact with a sick student, compared with just under 5% of students between 9 and 14 days after the most recent contact. Only one student became symptomatic after returning to school; they tested positive on day 14 (after having a negative test on day 9). The effects of reducing quarantine time were profound, as loss of instruction decreased by 3,649 days with the 9-day testing protocol (8,097 days missed) vs a theoretical 14-day quarantine (11,746 days missed). JUCM published research on how long we can expect children to test positive, drawn from a pediatric urgent care population. You can read Prolonged Duration Of Pediatric COVID-19 in our archive right now.
Finally, More Data on How Long Kids Should Be Quarantined After a COVID-19 Contact