MDHHS updates COVID-19 guidance for K-12 schools

Published 1:48 pm Tuesday, January 11, 2022

LANSING – Tuesday, the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services updated its K-12 school quarantine and isolation guidance to reflect recent updates made by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention that modifies or shortens the quarantine and isolation periods to as short as five days in some circumstances.

Changes include language on isolation guidance that allow students, teachers and staff to return to school sooner after infection, under certain circumstances. Quarantine guidance is also updated, allowing students, as well as staff and teachers, to return to school sooner after a school-based exposure.

The state is committed to ensuring Michigan students and educators are as safe as possible in the classroom, officials said. When layered prevention strategies such as vaccination, masking, distancing, testing, isolation and quarantine are applied consistently, school-associated transmission of COVID-19 is significantly reduced. MDHHS continues to recommend universal masking in K-12 settings. This guidance will help K-12 schools maintain in-person learning by outlining mitigation strategies when students, teachers and staff are exposed to a COVID-19 case in a school setting.

“We always advocate for preventative measures that keep our children safe,” said Dr. Natasha Bagdasarian, MDHHS chief medical executive. “Children of school age – ages 5 and up – are now eligible to get vaccinated, and children ages 12 and up are eligible to get boosted. In addition to masking and testing, we feel confident that schools can remain as safe as possible for our children.”

Quarantine and isolation are determined by the local health department and are used as important tools to prevent the spread of disease, officials said.

  • Individuals should isolate when theey are already infected with COVID-19 and have tested positive, even if tjey do not have symptoms. Isolation is used to separate people who are infected with COVID-19 from those who are not infected.
  • Individuals should quarantine when they might have been exposed to COVID-19. This is because they might become infected with COVID-19 and could spread COVID-19 to others.


Overview of COVID-19 isolation guidance for K-12 schools: 

Students, teachers and staff who test positive for COVID-19 and/or display COVID-19 symptoms should isolate regardless of vaccination status:

  • If positive with no symptoms, monitor for symptoms from day of exposure through day 10 of isolation; and
  • Isolate at home for five days; and
  • If symptoms have improved or a person continues to have no symptoms, return to school, while wearing a well-fitted mask, for days six to 10; or
  • Stay home for 10 days if unwilling/unable to wear a mask.
  • If a person has a fever, they should stay home until they are fever-free for a period of 24 hours without the use of fever-reducing medications.


Overview of COVID-19 quarantine guidance for K-12 schools:

Close contacts of a COVID-19 case do not need to quarantine at home if they:

  • Had confirmed COVID-19 within the last 90 days; and/or
  • Are up to date on all recommended COVID-19 vaccines for which they are eligible

These contacts should still monitor their symptoms and “Mask to Stay” for 10 days from the date of last exposure.

Close contacts of a COVID-19 case who do not meet the criteria above need to quarantine or may test to stay and/or mask to stay. Exposed individuals may:

  • Home quarantine for days one to five, if feasible test on day five, and “Mask to Stay” for days six to 10; or
  • “Test to Stay” for days 1-6 AND “Mask to Stay” for days one to 10; or
  • Home quarantine for days 1-10 if unable/unwilling to mask

Students, teachers and staff should monitor for symptoms throughout quarantine period (days one through 10).