NM Public Education Department Reduces Quarantine, Self-Isolation Time, Needs A Reminder
The New Mexico Department of Public Education (PED) has released updated COVID-19 guidelines, shortening quarantine and self-isolation times for students and staff.
The DEP will also require staff members to receive a booster shot to be considered fully vaccinated.
The new guidelines reduce quarantine and self-isolation periods from 10 days to five days in accordance with Center for Disease Control guidelines announced Dec. 27.
Carlsbad Municipal Schools (CMS) Superintendent Dr. Gerry Washburn told the Current-Argus he’s concerned the recall requirements will create additional pressure on the district’s testing supplies.
Washburn said more than 70% of CMS staff had received two injections of the Pfizer or Moderna vaccine or one injection of the Johnson & Johnson vaccine. He said the number of those who had already received the booster was much lower.
“Nationally, the demand for COVID-19 testing has outstripped the supply,” said DEP Deputy Communications Director Judy Robinson. “However, the New Mexico Department of Health obtained enough rapid antigen tests to keep the testing program going to stay in schools.”
On January 10, CMS was forced to temporarily close its drive-thru COVID-19 testing site after running out of testing supplies.
In response to the nationwide shortage, the Biden administration announced Wednesday that it will also provide American schools with 10 million additional COVID-19 tests each month.
Robison said schools across the state have also seen disruptions to testing schedules due to staff testing positive for the virus.
The CMS testing site previously closed on Jan. 6 after all testing staff in the district tested positive for the virus.
Loving Elementary School (LMS) was forced to close on January 13 when at least 20% of its staff were absent due to quarantine requirements. LMS Superintendent Lee White said his district still had plenty of tests, but he was still concerned about potential shortages.
Under PED regulations, students and staff who come into contact with someone who has tested positive for COVID-19 and is not fully vaccinated are required to self-quarantine or participate in the testing program to stay.
The Test to Stay program allows these students and staff to stay at school if they test negative for the virus.
Those who are fully vaccinated generally do not need to quarantine if they show no symptoms, but the PED recommends testing for COVID-19 five days after exposure.
Claudia Silva is a reporter for UNM’s Local Reporting Fellowship. She can be reached at [email protected], by phone at 575-628-5506 or on Twitter @thewatchpup.
This article originally appeared on Carlsbad Current-Argus: NM Public Education Department Updates COVID-19 Regulations