(WFXR) — On Thursday, Gov. Glenn Youngkin announced updated COVID-19 quarantine guidance for schools, childcare facilities, and camps.

Officials say the time to re-evaluate COVID-19 precautions is now, due to low hospitalization rates; increased natural immunity to the virus; and the readily available vaccines, tests, and treatments throughout the Commonwealth.

“From the first days of my administration, I have supported parents in making informed decisions for their own families, whom they love and know best,” said Youngkin. “As Virginians continue to return to the office and social settings, the pandemic is disrupting workplaces and family life when entire child care facilities, camps and classrooms shutter in response to as few as two cases. Today marks a shift in my administration’s recommendations to optional quarantine for exposure to COVID-19 in child care and school settings as the severity of the disease decreases.”  

The Virginia Department of Health (VDH) says that quarantine is no longer recommended for asymptomatic individuals after exposure to COVID-19. In addition, masks are generally not routinely recommended.

According to a statement shared by the governor’s office on Thursday, July 14, the VDH recommends the following isolation and quarantine guidelines for children, teachers, and staff members in K-12 schools, childcare, and camp settings throughout the Commonwealth:

  • Symptomatic persons should begin home isolation and undergo testing recommended by healthcare providers, regardless of vaccination status. The first day symptoms begin should be counted as day zero.
  • Any person who tests positive should isolate at home for at least five days, no matter their vaccination status. Once their symptoms resolve or are completely gone, and they go without a fever for 24 hours, they may return to their programs after five days, provided:
    • If the person is able to wear a mask, they should do so through day 10.
    • If the person is unwilling or unable to wear a mask, the VDH recommends a negative test on or after day six in order to return to the program, or just staying at home through day 10.
    • Schools with the resources to do so should consider offering rapid tests for individuals on site and to take home. If a student gets sick at school, have the student wait in a separate isolation room or area while waiting to be picked up.
  • For anyone exposed but asymptomatic, regardless of vaccination status, quarantine is no longer recommended and the individual may remain in their programming.
    • Exposure is defined as being within six feet of a person who is positive for COVID-19 for a total of at least 15 minutes over a 24 hour span, or having direct contact with respiratory secretions from an infected person.
    • Students or staff attending programming during this time should consider wearing a mask around others indoors until day 10.
    • Schools may use “Test to Stay” protocols and VDH testing resources to support testing.
    • If a student or staff member in this group has a household exposure to a person with COVID-19, the VDH recommends more frequent testing for students, families, and staff.
  • For any school or facility experiencing a COVID-19 outbreak that has been difficult to control or unusual in size or scope, regional and local epidemiologists may apply professional judgment and recommend traditional quarantine and isolation procedures until the situation is under control.

“While our communities and Commonwealth are learning to live with the pandemic, we recognize that COVID-19 continues to impact many individuals. We are encouraged by our health systems’ continued advancement in both the understanding of, and treatment for, the virus,” the governor’s office stated on Thursday. “We will continue to be vigilant about surges or new variants and any impact to our healthcare system. While maintaining that prudence, Virginia’s communities can, and should, continue on a path to normalcy.”