New Florida surgeon general, DeSantis revise school rule on coronavirus quarantines

Florida’s new Surgeon General, Dr. Joseph Ladapo, issued a new emergency rule Wednesday that states parents must be the ones to decide whether their asymptomatic children need to quarantine if they have been exposed to someone who tested positive for the coronavirus.

Gov. Ron DeSantis said parents were concerned about rules that would quarantine healthy students and prevent them from having a “normal functioning school year” and inconvenience their parents. He said parents will be notified of the test result.

“Quarantining healthy students is incredibly damaging … it’s also incredibly disruptive,” DeSantis said during a news conference in Osceola County.

Commissioner of Education Richard Corcoran celebrated the end of “chronic absenteeism” and he said he was grateful for DeSantis and Ladapo’s decision to issue a “common sense” rule.

Under the rule, parents or legal guardians will decide whether their child “attends school, school-sponsored activities, or be on school property, without restrictions or disparate treatment, so long as the student remains asymptomatic.”

“It’s also important to respect the rights of parents,” Ladapo said.

Parents and legal guardians may also choose to have their child quarantine for up to seven days from the date of last direct contact with the person who tested positive.

“We do encourage everybody to monitor closely for symptoms,” Osceola County Public Schools Superintendent Debra Pace said.

The emergency rule, however, states that students must stay home from school if they are sick and quarantine if they test positive for the virus until they receive a negative COVID-19 test and are no longer symptomatic, or 10 days have passed since their symptoms began.

The student may also return to school if they receive written permission from a doctor or advanced nurse practitioner.

The new rule replaces a previous one that required students to quarantine for at least four days after being exposed to someone who had tested positive.

The emergency rule immediately went into effect after being issued Wednesday.


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