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Utah schools look for rule changes around quarantining

Students walk to their buses following school at Rose Springs Elementary in Erda, Tooele County, on Thursday, Nov. 5, 2020. Steve Griffin, Deseret News

SALT LAKE CITY – Some Utah schools are asking the state health department to reconsider the rules for quarantining students and staff. 

Ben Horsley with the Granite School District said around 1,300 people in his district are quarantining right now after getting exposed to COVID-19. 

However, he told KSL NewsRadio’s Dave and Dujanovic show that that was too many in his opinion, as only 2% of COVID-19 exposures come from schools. 

“Our confirmed transmission that’s occurring in social and family circumstances is 83%. So, what that means is that if we’re dismissing [kids from class] more, we’re actually increasing exposures. And we’re actually increasing cases, potentially,” Horsley said. 

Even if a student is exposed, many do not end up testing positive for COVID-19, especially if they were wearing a mask. 

For example, of the 153 people the Davis School District tested earlier this week, only three people who were exposed to COVID-19 tested positive for the virus. 

Horsley says the Utah COVID-19 task force, as well as state and local health departments, are looking into whether to change the quarantining rules for schools. 

Currently, a student or staff member has to quarantine if they stay within six feet of an infected person for 15 minutes or more in a day. 

If no symptoms of COVID-19 show up after seven days, the person who was exposed can get tested and go back to class if the result is negative.

Horsley would also like more rapid tests to be used to incentivize kids to get one, instead of coming to school sick. 

“If kids want to come back to school, all they [would] have to do is come and produce a negative test at a mass testing event. We have rapid tests that produce results within 15 minutes,” Horsley said.

You can hear the whole conversation between Ben Horsley and Dave and Debbie below.

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