New interim rules for Hawaii K-12 schools will cut in half the recommended time that teachers and students should isolate or quarantine for COVID-19, from the previous 10 days to five.

State schools Interim Superintendent Keith Hayashi and State Epidemiologist Dr. Sarah Kemble, held a news conference today to announce details of the new state guidance. They said it was created to align with that of the CDC, and to help maintain in-person learning.

ISOLATION

Students and staff who test positive for COVID-19 or have COVID-19 symptoms should isolate for five days regardless of their vaccination status. They can return to school when all the following conditions are met:

>> Five full days have passed since symptoms first appeared or since the test was conducted.

>> No fever for 24 hours.

>> Symptoms have improved.

QUARANTINE

Students and staff who have been in close contact with a person who has COVID-19 should quarantine for five days after last contact if:

>> They have not completed their primary vaccine series (2 shots Pfizer or Moderna, 1 shot J&J).

>> They are 18 or older and have completed their primary vaccine series but have not received a recommended booster when eligible.

>> Students and staff should get tested on day five of quarantine, even if they do not have symptoms.

Students and staff are not required to quarantine if:

>> They are ages 5-17 and have completed their primary series of COVID-19 vaccines (2 shots Pfizer or Moderna).

>> They are 18 and older and have received all recommended vaccine doses including boosters.

Hawaii’s public schools have been struggling with staffing during the unprecedented COVID-19 omicron variant surge. Hayashi confirmed that approximately 12% of all teachers continue to call out, half due to sickness, half for other reasons. Hundreds fewer substitute teachers than needed have signed up to work.

“The reduced isolation and quarantine guidance supports our efforts to continue to prioritize in-person learning while upholding safety protocols in our schools,” Hayashi said in a statement. “The revisions also recognize the protection that vaccinations provide for staff and students, and the added protection boosters provide for eligible staff. More than 90% of HIDOE employees are vaccinated and we continue to support efforts to make vaccinations accessible in our schools along with COVID testing opportunities.”

“School have the tools they need to help keep students safe from COVID-19. Vaccines, boosters, masks, and cohorting all contribute to a safe environment,” Kemble said in a statement.

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This is a breaking news story and it will be updated.

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