New Florida surgeon general gives parents choice whether to quarantine students exposed to COVID-19

TALLAHASSEE, Fla. — Florida’s new surgeon general signed off on new school quarantine rules on Wednesday that give parents the choice of whether or not to quarantine their children after they’ve been exposed to COVID-19.

The new policy, signed off by Dr. Joseph Ladapo on his second day on the job, states that parents or legal guardians can choose to either send their asymptomatic children to school without restriction after being directly exposed to the virus or quarantine them for no more than seven days from exposure.

READ: New R.1 COVID-19 variant detected in U.S. outbreak

“Bottom line is healthy kids have the right to be in school, parents have the right to choose,” Gov. Ron DeSantis said at a news conference in Kissimmee to announce the change.

The previous policy required students to not attend school, school-sponsored activities, or be on school property until the student is asymptomatic and receives a negative diagnostic COVID-19 test after four days from the date of last exposure to the COVID-19 positive individual; or the student is asymptomatic and seven days have passed since the date of last exposure to the COVID-19 positive individual.

If a student becomes symptomatic, they are still asked to stay home and quarantine until they’re either not showing symptoms, receive a negative test, after ten days or if they get a doctor’s note.

READ: Florida’s new surgeon general: State will ‘completely reject fear’ on disease mitigation

Senate Democratic leader Lauren Book said in a statement that the change is dangerous for students and families across the state.

“Florida’s new Surgeon General is a doctor of disinformation who traffics in anti-vaccine and anti-mask conspiracies which threaten public health and safety,” Book said. “His first official move puts schoolchildren at risk and places his dangerous denial of science on full display. I urge Florida school districts to follow sensible health policies to ensure the safety and well-being of students, teachers, and staff.”

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Sarah Wilson

Sarah Wilson, WFTV.com

Sarah Wilson joined WFTV Channel 9 in 2018 as a digital producer after working as an award-winning newspaper reporter for nearly a decade in various communities across Central Florida.