Dear Eatontown Public Schools Community Member:
On Monday, January 10, 2022 the information contained in this writing was shared with our district by the NJ Department of Health.
The CDC updated their guidance on Isolation and Quarantine on January 4, 2022 based on several factors, including the impact of COVID-19 infections due to the Omicron variant, when and for how long a person is maximally infectious with Omicron, the effectiveness of COVID-19 vaccines and booster doses against Omicron infection, and adherence to prevention interventions.
While the incubation period of SARS-CoV-2 is between 2-14 days, illness onset and infectivity most commonly occur at the beginning of this period. Reports suggest that compared with previous variants, Omicron has a shorter incubation period (2-4 days), defined as the time between becoming infected and symptom onset. COVID-19 vaccine booster shots have been shown to increase protection against SARS-CoV-2, including Omicron. Although many people have intentions to self-isolate, both isolation and quarantine are challenging; especially in the context that many infections are asymptomatic.
The shortened timeframes for isolation and quarantine focus on the period when a person is most infectious, followed by continued masking for an additional 5 days. Preliminary data suggest that the Omicron variant is up to three times more infectious than the Delta variant. With the recommended shorter isolation and quarantine periods, it is critical that people continue to wear well-fitting masks and take additional precautions for 5 days after leaving isolation or quarantine. Yesterday, Governor Murphy extended the mask requirement for schools.
Beginning Tuesday, January 18, 2022, acceptable options to shorten isolation and quarantine based upon new NJ Department of Health guidance include:
ISOLATION (APPLIES TO INFECTED PERSONS)
- Persons who test positive for COVID-19 and are symptomatic or persons with COVID-19 symptoms who were not tested or who are waiting for test results must stay home and isolate from other people for at least 5 full days (day 0 is the first day of symptoms).
- If symptoms resolve (fever-free for 24 hours and other symptoms improve), isolation can end after 5 full days (i.e., on day 6).
- If symptoms persist (fever or if other symptoms have not improved), continue to isolate until fever-free for 24 hours and other symptoms have improved.
- Persons who test positive for COVID-19 but have no symptoms must stay home and isolate from other people for at least 5 full days (day 0 is the day of the positive viral test).
- If no symptoms develop, isolation can end after 5 full days (i.e., on day 6).
- If symptoms develop within one week of the positive test, the 5-day isolation period starts over with day 0 being the first day of symptoms. Follow recommendations for ending isolation for persons who have COVID-19 symptoms.
QUARANTINE (APPLIES TO PERSONS EXPOSED TO SOMEONE WITH COVID-19)
- Unvaccinated individuals should stay home and away from other people for at least 5 days (day 0 through day 5) after the last close contact with a person who has COVID-19. The date of the exposure is considered day 0.
- If COVID-19 symptoms develop, get tested and follow isolation recommendations.
- If asymptomatic, get tested at least 5 days after the last close contact.
- If the test is positive, follow isolation recommendations.
- If the test is negative, you can end quarantine after day 5.
- If testing is not available, you can end quarantine after day 5 (as long as there were no COVID-19 symptoms throughout the 5-day period).
- Fully vaccinated individuals do not have to quarantine after contact with someone who had COVID-19 unless they have symptoms. At this time, those individuals eligible for booster vaccinations should consider obtaining the booster as soon as possible. Students and staff should continue to update the school nurse regarding their vaccination status.
Although these changes are still not perfect, they do allow an opportunity for more students and staff to return to school or work earlier than before. The district will continue to monitor the guidance for future changes and communicate them as needed. If you have any questions, contact your school nurse or principal.
Again, thank you for your patience and cooperation during these challenging times.
Scott T. McCue
Superintendent of Schools