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School district to follow new CDC quarantine, isolation guidelines with testing requirement

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The School District of La Crosse will be following the new CDC guidelines for quarantine and isolation, dropping the absence period for infected students from 10 to five days.

The new policy, which adheres to CDC criteria, will go into effect Monday. Those who tested positive for COVID must be symptom free by day five, without fever, and provide a negative antigen test in order to return to school on day six post infection onset. Testing is available onsite at school. Unvaccinated close contacts may continue to participate in the district’s “test and stay” program. Masks are currently required for all students and staff.

“We know that the changes in recommendations from the CDC and public health officials can be confusing and frustrating. We recognize that these changes come at a time when we are seeing increased cases in our community,” superintendent Aaron Engel said in a letter to parents and guardians. “This change was due to evidence showing that, in general, transmission of the virus to others occurs 1-2 days before and 2-3 days after an individual experiences symptoms.

We continue to believe that with the mitigation strategies we have in place, school is a safe place with very little transmission. We will continue to monitor our local data and adjust accordingly if we see increased transmission in our schools.”

The school district, which has been hit hard by staff shortages due to the omicron variant and community spread, asks individuals to mask when around others and out in public, to distance when possible, stay home when feeling ill and to be vaccinated and boosted if eligible.

Due to high local case rates, families should expect several days for contact tracing to be conducted and notifications of close contacts sent. Parents and guardians are asked to monitor their children for symptoms and have them tested if any appear.

For the week of Dec. 15 through 22, the district confirmed 41 COVID infections among staff and students, with 376 close contacts identified. Of the close contacts, 245 qualified for the test and stay program. In total this school year, 451 student and staff cases have been reported, along with 3,270 close contacts, 2,058 of which were eligible for test and stay.

More information on the test and stay program and quarantine and isolation protocols for the School District of La Crosse can be found at shorturl.at/dqL57.

Emily Pyrek can be reached at emily.pyrek@lee.net.

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