Marin revises school guidelines as COVID surge ebbs

Marin public health officials on Wednesday urged the county’s school community to stay vigilant on testing, masks, vaccinations and quarantines for “a few more weeks” until the omicron surge plateaus and then declines by the end of this month.

“I think we’re seeing early signs that the omicron surge is waning,” Dr. Matt Willis, Marin public health officer, told scores of parents, teachers and students on a webinar hosted by the Marin County Office of Education. “We’re seeing it plateau this week and next.”

The words of encouragement came as Willis and Dr. Lisa Santora, Marin deputy public health officer, announced changes to the county’s quarantine guidelines to allow for more students and staff to stay in school, even if they have been exposed.

The revised quarantine guidelines, available online at, allow an unvaccinated person with a COVID infection within the last 30 days to not quarantine, unless the person is symptomatic and tests positive.

“They should only test if they’re symptomatic,” Santora said. “If they test positive, then they should isolate.”

Similarly, a fully vaccinated, but unboosted, person who was exposed may still attend school if asymptomatic and testing negative.

“Everyone needs to continue to wear masks indoors and outdoors,” she said. “We urge you to get boosted as soon as possible.”

In addition, Santora added that schools will stop sending exposure notices to parents for general virus exposures. Only exposures from close contacts — such as teammates in sports teams or friends in a carpool — would trigger an exposure notice and possible testing and quarantines.

“You can assume that all schools are having some COVID activity,” Santora said. “You need to know only about the close contacts.”

“For everyone else, this is your official notice that COVID is in our community,” Santora added.

Willis said the omicron surge that started Dec. 20 hit a one-day high in Marin on Jan. 4 with 625 positive cases reported. The daily average has dropped to about 300 cases.

Hospitalizations and deaths remain low, with about 12 to 15 people hospitalized with COVID-19 in Marin on average. There was one death in the past two weeks from the virus, involving an elderly person who was in hospice, Willis said.

“We have not seen any significant increase in the past few days,” Willis said. “We need to stay strong for a few more weeks and hopefully there will be a decline by the end of January.”

The shift in approach to omicron and quarantines come as many Marin schools are securing more at-home rapid tests for families to use over the next week or two.

At Miller Creek School District, superintendent Becky Rosales said there were 52 positive cases among staff and students after the return from the holiday break, or about a 2.6% positivity rate. However, no one classroom breached the 25% threshold of infection needed to trigger officials to close a class.

“So far, the positive cases across our schools have been distributed over several classrooms,” she said in a note to parents. “We do not have a classroom that has reached the …read more

Source:: The Mercury News – Entertainment


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