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State issues updated COVID-19 guidance for schools

It's based on the updated guidance that was released by the Centers for Disease and Control and Prevention on Dec. 27.

HARTFORD, Conn — The Connecticut Department of Public Health announced updates to its COVID-19 guidance for quarantine, isolation, testing and contact tracing policies and procedures for PreK-12 schools on Monday.

The document, developed in collaboration with the Connecticut State Department of Education, is based on the updated guidance that was released by the Centers for Disease and Control and Prevention on Dec. 27. This update outlines a set of optional policy and procedural changes that school districts may choose to implement at this time.

• Individuals who are even mildly symptomatic with any of the symptoms associated with COVID19 should immediately isolate at home, test for the virus that causes COVID-19 (SARS-CoV-2) with a PCR, antigen, or self-test, and remain away from activities outside of the home until they are fever-free for at least 24 hours and other symptoms are significantly improved.

• Individuals who test positive for COVID-19 should isolate at home for at least 5 days, or longer if symptoms develop and persist. A mask should continue to be worn for an additional 5 days at all times when around others. 

• Unvaccinated or partially vaccinated individuals who are notified that they have had close contact with an individual who has confirmed or suspected COVID-19 should immediately quarantine at home and test for the virus 5 days after their last exposure to the COVID-19 case. This is especially important in situations where extended high-intensity exposure may have occurred, such as with household contacts, in unmasked social settings (e.g., sleepovers, parties), and/or during athletic activities.

For more details, go here.

Connecticut's Department of Public Health Commissioner Manisha Juthani, MD, spoke to FOX61 regarding the latest on the pandemic, from the spread of omicron to the scramble to find a COVID test kit.

"What we've seen with the omicron variant, which has doubled every two days essentially, is that we're having so many more cases than we were before," Juthani said.

The quick spread of the omicron variant is part of why dozens of COVID testing sites and many community COVID test kit distribution events have been jam-packed with people waiting in line. Officials encourage those to get a test only if they really need it.

"We want to make sure people getting tested for the right reasons, which is that you have symptoms or you had a significant exposure to somebody," she added.

With the COVID case uptick, Connecticut's COVID positivity rate reached 21.52% on Monday, with a total of 1,452 people currently in the hospital. 999 of them are not fully vaccinated.

"What I'm most concerned about is the fact that 70-80% of people who are in the hospital all are unvaccinated, and this burden is significant in terms of the patients we have to take care of in the hospitals," Juthani said. "Vaccination is still our number one way to keep people out of the hospital."

RELATED:  Ansonia school district cancels school this week amid a spike in COVID-related staff shortages

RELATED: Some schools sound the alarm on severe staffing shortages

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