CDC shortens COVID-19 quarantine period to five days for all Illinois schools

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Mishal Nizar

All Illinois schools have adopted new CDC guidance which now shortens the quarantine period to five days instead of 14.

Sydney Burleyson, Headlines editor

In an e-newsletter sent out by District 204 Superintendent Adrian Talley stated that “Staff and students who test positive for COVID-19, regardless of vaccination status should isolate for five days after onset of symptoms, or five days from specimen collection date if no symptoms are present.” The Illinois Department of Public Health (IDPH), Illinois State Board Of Education (ISBE), and the Dupage County Health Department announced they are adopting the new CDC guidelines regarding the COVID-19 pandemic and isolation rules on Jan. 7.

All Illinois schools have switched to the new quarantine time period and have implemented it into their district. Illinois State Board Of Education (ISBE) and Illinois Department Of Public Health (IDPH) updated the shorter isolation times effective immediately to all k-12 schools.

The Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) announced that the quarantine period is now shortened to only five days compared to the original 14 day period regardless of vaccination status. Although the new guidelines have stirred some confusion and concern over the fact that five days is not long enough for someone to not be contagious with COVID anymore, the five-day guide will continue to be implemented in all 204 schools.

Regarding the change in quarantine periods, students and staff may be able to return to in-person school sooner than originally scheduled. Staff and students who tested positive on Jan. 3 or 4 could return to school on Jan. 10 with everyone else returning from winter break. Anyone who tested positive on any following days would have to wait a few extra days depending on the day of infection.  

From here on forward now, 204 students must individually get the schoolwork they missed while quarantining unlike before when counselors would email teachers to provide students with work to do while quarantining. This is due to the short turnaround time being only five days which would not provide teachers with enough time to send work to absent students. 

Previously, school counselors would receive a notice for excluded students and, in turn, email students’ teachers. In light of the recent change which decreases the number of quarantine/exclusion days, it is no longer feasible for us to maintain this practice due to a much shorter turnaround,” Principal Darrel Echols said.

The idea of returning to in-person learning after an almost three-week winter break where COVID cases skyrocketed is unsettling to some students, staff, and parents. Many parents have expressed their concerns about students returning to school to District 204 members. Talley stated that switching to online learning is not an option for the district right now, even with raised COVID cases.

Despite some concern over high COVID cases, and a large number of absences due to COVID, students returned to school this past Monday. For more information regarding the new quarantine and isolation guidelines visit IPSD 204 website for more information.