State clarifies isolation rules for workers, including school staff

(KHN illustration/Getty Images)

CalOSHA announced last night that it had updated its website to clarify that employees, including teachers and other school staff, are eligible for the shorter quarantines recommended by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and adopted by the California Department of Public Health last month.

Now people who test positive for Covid-19, but remain without symptoms, can isolate for only five days rather than 10, followed by five days of wearing a mask when around others.

The change was prompted by research showing the majority of Covid transmission occurs in the one to two days prior to the onset of symptoms and the two to three days after.

The only exception is for employees who choose not to take a Covid test before returning to work. They must quarantine 10 days.

Conflicting state information has caused confusion about whether school districts should follow CalOSHA Emergency Temporary Standards, which required a 10-day quarantine, or the new recommendation to quarantine for five days.

CalOSHA officials said the department is is following Executive Order N-84-20, which states that its recommended isolation and quarantine periods are overridden by any California Department of Health recommendation that has a shorter period of isolation.

The CDC guidelines also recommend that people who are exposed to Covid-19 quarantine for five days, followed by five days of strict mask use. If that’s not feasible, the CDC said, the individual should wear a well-fitting mask at all times around others for 10 days after the exposure.

People who are fully vaccinated and have had a booster do not need to quarantine following exposure, the CDC said, but should wear a mask for 10 days after the exposure.

Local health jurisdictions and school districts may have more restrictive isolation or quarantine requirements.

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