Utah updates COVID-19 isolation, quarantine guidelines for adults and students

Jan 3, 2022, 7:25 PM | Updated: Jun 8, 2022, 5:34 pm

SANDY, Utah – Students returned to the classroom Monday as parents and administrators sort through new COVID-19 guidelines for quarantine and isolation periods.

Utah’s new guidance goes beyond what the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention released last week because it also applies to students.

Among the key changes: students, teachers and members of the general public who test positive for COVID-19 will need to isolate for a minimum of five days, down from the previous requirement of 10 days.

“We’ve worked with many different groups this week to review the changes CDC recommended. Together with the Governor’s office, state and local public health leaders, healthcare leaders, and education officials, we worked to make a plan that will work best for Utah,” said a prepared statement from Dr. Leisha Nolen, state epidemiologist at the Utah Department of Health.

Nolen went on to say the new Utah guidelines are effective immediately for schools and businesses and the general population. She added that additional guidelines are forthcoming for health care workers, immunocompromised people and those living or working in group settings.

The state health department said the CDC is considering additional changes to the isolation and quarantine guidelines and that Utah will re-evaluate its guidance if the CDC makes any changes.

“We understand the changing guidelines can be confusing,” Nolen said. “Our knowledge of COVID-19, and especially the Omicron variant, changes rapidly. Data continues to show vaccination protects you from severe illness, which means fewer people miss work and school, or are at risk of hospitalization. Other countries have seen that prior infection alone is not sufficient to protect you from this variant.”

While the new guidance recommends mask wearing, the health department and school districts reminded that Utah schools cannot require masks.

“While the health department guidelines indicate that students are encouraged to wear masks after they return to school after their either quarantine or isolation period, state law prohibits school districts from mandating mask-wearing if there’s in-person instruction,” said Jeff Haney, spokesperson for the Canyons School District.

Here are the updated Utah guidelines on isolation and quarantine for the general population and students, which went into effect last Wednesday.

Anyone who tests positive for COVID-19 should:

  • Stay at home for 5 days from the day you were tested, even if you don’t have symptoms or feel sick. You can leave your house after 5 days if your symptoms have improved (fever-free without medicine for at least 24 hours and your symptoms have improved). You must stay home for at least 5 days.
  • Wear a mask around others for the 5 days after your home isolation.

For those who are exposed to COVID-19, quarantine guidelines depend on the person’s age and whether the person is up-to-date with their COVID-19 vaccinations. Public health officials recommend anyone who is exposed to COVID-19 get tested 5 days after their exposure and wear a mask around others.

  • Adults aged 18 and older who have had their booster dose or are recently vaccinated (meaning they’ve had a second dose of Pfizer or Moderna vaccine within the last 6 months, or had a J&J vaccine within the last 2 months) don’t need to quarantine at home. These individuals can continue to go to work and participate in activities; however, they should wear a mask for the 10 days after their exposure.
  • Anyone younger than 18 who is up-to-date with their COVID-19 vaccinations (meaning they’ve had 2 doses of the Pfizer vaccine) doesn’t need to quarantine at home. These individuals can continue to go to school and work and participate in activities; however they should wear a mask for the 10 days after their exposure.
  • People of all ages who are unvaccinated, have not received a booster dose, or are not recently vaccinated (meaning they’ve only had one dose of a Pfizer or Moderna vaccine or were vaccinated with J&J more than 2 months ago) should quarantine at home for 5 days from the day they were exposed. They can end quarantine after 5 days as long as they don’t have any symptoms. They should wear a mask around others for the 5 days after they end quarantine at home. Students may attend school so long as they wear a mask at school for the 10 days after their exposure.

The new Utah guidance does not apply to health care workers, immunocompromised people, or those living or working in homeless shelters, correctional facilities or other group settings.

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Utah updates COVID-19 isolation, quarantine guidelines for adults and students