St. Public Schools. Paul can drop quarantine and COVID contact tracing rules


Just as coronavirus cases are on the rise after the winter break, St. Paul is considering no longer identifying and excluding unvaccinated students who came into contact with an infected person at school.

Mary Langworthy, the district’s director of health and wellness, said contact tracing is taxing school health workers, and extended quarantines make it difficult for families. She said many students had to stay home for 10 days on three different occasions.

“Our parents work so hard to get their jobs, they don’t have a kindergarten option. … It’s a hardship that many of our families have to endure,” she told administrators this week.

With the more contagious omicron variant taken over, the St. Paul counted 819 new cases among students, staff and visitors as of Wednesday, compared with 690 for the whole of December. At the same time, the severity of those cases “did a bit,” Langworthy said.

She also said the possibility of transmission at school is quite low, meaning that isolation is forcing many children to miss school unnecessarily.

“It’s really hard for these kids to get back what was lost last year,” she said.

Langworthy said she will meet with state and Ramsey County public health officials next week to discuss contact tracing and other possible changes to the district’s COVID-19 protocols. .


Last school year, schools in Minnesota were required to identify and exclude for 14 days any student or staff member who was within six feet of an infected person for at least 15 minutes.

This school year, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reduced the period of close contact isolation to 10 days for those without symptoms and said students can stay in school as long as they and the infected person infected wearing a mask. (Although St. Paul required masks, students who ate together could be considered close contacts.)

At the same time, Governor Tim Walz let his emergency powers expire, empowering school officials to decide what recommended COVID-19 protocol they want to follow. While the St. Paul and Minneapolis continue contact tracing and close contact quarantine, Anoka-Hennepin and many others do not.

This week, CDC has shortened close contact quarantine zones again, allowing unvaccinated students to return to school after just five days and a negative test.

The CDC also shortened the quarantine period for those who tested positive. They can now leave home five days after the first symptoms appeared, as long as they don’t have a fever.

Minnesota’s health and education departments have yet to respond to those changes, and St. Paul and Minneapolis have informed families that they are reviewing new guidance.

Unlike St. Paul, Minneapolis County is not considering discontinuing contact for tracing, a spokeswoman said.


Rochester Public Schools in the fall began rolling out an alternative to quarantine, allowing close contacts to stay in school as long as they test negative five times during the intended quarantine period. .

Interim Superintendent Kent Pekel said he realizes COVID-19 won’t go away anytime soon and he doesn’t want students to miss out on in-person instruction.

https://www.twincities.com/2022/01/07/st-paul-public-schools-may-drop-contact-tracing-quarantine-as-coronavirus-cases-grow/ St. Public Schools. Paul can drop quarantine and COVID contact tracing rules

Sarah Ridley

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