McKee’s new school policy for COVID feels like backfilling.

Governor Dan McKee, along with the Rhode Island departments of health and education, implemented new guidelines for how schools handle COVID infections, yesterday.  Employees and students who have been vaccinated and boosted (depending on age) do not have to quarantine, even if they had close contact with somebody who tested positive.  Notably, the same applies to anybody who recovered from the virus within the prior three months.  However, the most noteworthy part of the policy is this:

Students and staff without symptoms, who are identified as close contacts, and aren’t exempt from quarantine will be encouraged to follow the Monitor to Stay quarantine protocol, which allows students and staff to attend school in person and participate in school-related extracurricular activities during their quarantine period. In this case, they should – Conduct symptom screening and attest that they don’t have symptoms for 5 days; – Follow quarantine guidance when outside school, as well as updated CDC guidance about masking; and – Athletic programs should continue current testing programs for sports.

In short, “test to stay” has become “monitor to stay,” perhaps because the government is doing such a poor job keeping up with testing.  Be that as it may, the state is slowly edging toward the common-sense way we’ve always handled minor-to-moderate illnesses.  People who have reason to think that they’ve come in contact with an infection people should keep an eye out and address the illness if it emerges, including by taking steps to keep others from getting it.

This does not require a declared state of emergency, and it does not require a constant drumbeat of fear from the news media.

The longer this goes on, the more damage it does psychologically, educationally, and politically.  A source tells me, for example that the Department of Health is not extending these loosened guidelines to private childcare facilities, despite the overlapping services.  Obviously, this creates a competitive advantage for government-run pre-K.

That imbalance is merely a taste, however, of the many ways we’re sure to discover our community was distorted during this episode, and the odds are always to the benefit of people in government.


Featured image by Kelly Sikemmad on Unsplash.

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