Humboldt County Office of Education: Letter From Dr. Frankovich Regarding Quarantine Duration

Letter From Dr. Frankovich Regarding Quarantine Duration

In response to revisions to state quarantine guidelines, Humboldt County Deputy Health Officer Dr. Teresa Frankovich has issued the following statement to local superintendents:

Dear Superintendents:

As you know, the state recently opened up the option of using a 10 day only quarantine for COVID exposures, except in certain settings.  This was done, not because it is as effective as a 14 day quarantine, but because there was a sense that compliance with 14 days was becoming problematic and 10 days might encourage more people to comply with quarantine, be tested and cooperate with investigations.  It is clear that 14 days is the safest period in terms of reducing transmission, if followed..

Per CDPH guidance, schools are not excluded from using a 10 day quarantine. However, locally we are concerned about the impact of using a shorter quarantine period in the school setting knowing that the principal study on this suggested that, at minimum, 1-5% of individuals will not develop symptoms until 10-14 days post exposure (some studies suggest 5% is likely).  For asymptomatic individuals the range was 1-10% and clearly, in young individuals, there is an overall larger number of asymptomatic cases.

Even using 14 days means that students who become infectious later in the quarantine period and are asymptomatic, may inadvertently return to school before they are at the 10 day post infection date for isolation.  However, using the longer quarantine period helps to ensure that they are at least further out in their course and possibly less infectious.  For example, if an asymptomatic  student becomes positive on day 5 and returns on day 14, that student is already 9 days into a 10 day isolation when they return.  The 14 days gives us a little extra insurance.

We have already seen cases locally in which individuals developed symptoms more than 10 days post exposure.  Ultimately, the risk of someone returning to class while infectious and the need for repeated quarantine of a classroom when that occurs, suggest the wisest course at present is to continue to use the 14 day quarantine.

At this time, HCPH is still recommending 14 days for quarantine for individuals in school settings and our guidance documents still use this number.  This is not an order but is it our local school guidance at this time when COVID is very active across our county.  The impact really amounts to about an 2 days more out of the classroom compared to a 10 day quarantine–since the weekends absorb several of the days.

We will continue to monitor the situation locally and any data that is forthcoming.  CDPH will also be releasing new school guidance documents sometime soon that may impact the plan going forward. As with all things COVID, the guidance may change over time. However, we wanted everyone to understand that at present, PH is following a 14 day quarantine plan in school settings. Please let me know if there are any questions or concerns.

Thanks much, Terry