NEW JERSEY – The New Jersey Department of Health (NJDOH) Thursday updated quarantine recommendations for school settings and for the general public. The revised recommendations, which do not apply to healthcare settings, align with guidance from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).
The guidance continues to recommend the optimal quarantine of 14 days for those who have been in close contact with someone who tested positive. The revision allows for shortened timeframes to end quarantine after day seven with a negative COVID-19 test result collected between five and seven days of quarantine—or after day 10 if testing has not been performed. The updated recommendations discontinue the use of regional transmission risk levels to determine quarantine timeframes, health officials said.
Quarantine helps prevent the spread of disease that can occur before a person knows they have the virus. However, the optimal 14-day exclusion timeframe may pose significant challenges for individuals and decreasing the duration can reduce the burden on individuals and increase compliance. CDC has determined that these shortened timeframes are acceptable options. The revised NJDOH guidance for schools permits a shortened timeframe for student and staff exclusion after exposure. Therefore, during all levels of community transmission and outbreaks, asymptomatic, individuals who are identified as a close contact to someone with COVID-19 may use a reduced exclusion period of 10 days (or 7 days with negative test results collected at 5-7 days) but must continue to monitor for symptoms for 14 days after exposure, health officials said.
“While a 14-day quarantine period is optimal, the CDC and NJ Department of Health recognizes the value of shortening quarantine in certain circumstances,” said Health Commissioner Judith Persichilli “Vaccination continues to provide the best protection against COVID-19, preventing transmission in school, and eliminating the need to quarantine following an exposure. I recommend that all parents to talk to their child’s health care provider about the COVID-19 vaccine and urge school personnel to seek vaccination and boosters as soon as possible.”
In the school setting, during times of moderate and high community transmission levels, individuals with COVID-19 symptoms and no known exposure to a COVID-19 case in the last 14 days, regardless of vaccination status, may follow the NJDOH School Exclusion List to determine when they may return to school only if they have an alternative diagnosis such as strep throat, influenza, or allergies supported by an evaluation by a medical provider, according to health officials.
Testing is still recommended for anyone with COVID-19 symptoms, health officials said.
To view the full guidance, visit www.state.nj.us/health/cd/topics/covid2019_schools.shtml and Tto view the updated minimum quarantine timeframes, visit www.nj.gov/health/cd/topics/covid2019_professionals.shtml.