Stamford schools reduce quarantine time from 14 to 10 days

Photo of Ignacio Laguarda
Children play on the playground during recess at Springdale Elementary School in Stamford, Conn. Thursday, April 29, 2021. Stamford schools re-opened playgrounds last month for the first time since the beginning of the pandemic.

Children play on the playground during recess at Springdale Elementary School in Stamford, Conn. Thursday, April 29, 2021. Stamford schools re-opened playgrounds last month for the first time since the beginning of the pandemic.

Tyler Sizemore / Hearst Connecticut Media

STAMFORD — Stamford schools announced this week a change to both quarantine and contact tracing protocols, reducing COVID-19 restrictions further as the school year nears its end.

The district had required a 14-day quarantine all year for anyone who contracted the virus or was deemed a contact of someone who did. On Tuesday, that rule was reduced to 10 days for those who do not exhibit any symptoms.

Further, officials also announced that elementary schools would no longer quarantine entire classrooms when a positive case was discovered. Instead, contact tracing would be conducted to identify close contacts, who would then need to quarantine.

A letter to the community stated that the decision to reduce quarantine time was reached “after review of the current federal and state recommendations as well as local data.”

“We are pleased that these changes will help to keep more of our students in our classrooms,” the letter reads.

Stamford Department of Health Director Dr. Jennifer Calder did not respond to multiple requests from The Stamford Advocate over the previous few months for an explanation of why Stamford remained at a 14-day quarantine much longer than any school district in the region.

School districts like Norwalk, Darien, Greenwich, New Canaan, and Fairfield all require 10 days for quarantine.

While the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention continue to recommend a 14-day quarantine, the public health agency also states that a 10-day quarantine is acceptable without testing and no symptoms reported. If testing is available, quarantine can end after seven days with a negative test, the CDC says.

Recently, rates of COVID in Stamford schools are on the decline.

Last Friday, only eight new cases had been reported over the previous seven days, and 52 people were in quarantine as a result. The week before, 23 people has contracted the virus,with 168 in quarantine.

Besides the relaxed quarantine and contact tracing protocols, the district has also scaled back other restrictions.

School playgrounds were re-opened late last month, for the first time since the pandemic began, and equipment and instruments were reintroduced into science, arts, music and physical education classes.

But even those changes came with accompanying health protocols. For instance, students at playgrounds must still wear masks. Only one class may use the recreational equipment at any one time, and students are told to wash their hands before and after.

In music classes, woodwind and brass instruments are not be allowed, but students can use percussion instruments. Singing is still not allowed indoors, but students can sing outdoors if they are 6 feet apart from others and all are facing the same direction.

ignacio.laguarda@hearstmediact.com