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Kent County schools policy means fewer students in quarantine

BES Photos / flickr

Elementary and Middle schools in Kent County have been allowed to reduce their distancing requirements from six feet down to three feet.

The Kent County Health Department changed the recommendation in February as a six-week pilot.

The change also affects which students are asked to quarantine after being exposed to a positive case of COVID-19. Under the recommendation in the pilot, only students who were within three feet of the infected person for 15 minutes or more will have to quarantine.

And so far, the county is not seeing an uptick of COVID cases among elementary school students, so the pilot policy may be extended.

“If this continues as it is, then we would probably change it to a three-foot rule, rather than a six-foot requirement for quarantine,” says Joann Hoganson, director of community wellness for the Kent County Health Department.

Hoganson says, under the new policy, fewer students are being asked to quarantine, which means less disruption for schools and students.

“In any situation, it is always a risk/benefit ratio,” Hoganson says. “And right now it appears that the risk is quite small but the benefit is quite great.”

This week the director of the CDC said the agency is also studying whether to change the six-foot recommendations for schools, after some studies showed a three-foot recommendation is just as effective.

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Dustin Dwyer reports enterprise and long-form stories from Michigan Radio’s West Michigan bureau. He was a fellow in the class of 2018 at the Nieman Foundation for Journalism at Harvard. He’s been with Michigan Radio since 2004, when he started as an intern in the newsroom.
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