Public schools are forcing unvaccinated students to quarantine at home after COVID-19 exposures—even if they test negative, according to the Washington Examiner.
In Washington, D.C., New York City, Chicago, and other districts, schools bar students from classrooms for five days following a direct COVID exposure or a close contact with a COVID-positive person. To return to in-person learning, the students must test negative after the five-day quarantine and wear a mask for five more days in school.
Democratic officials and teachers' unions have advocated throughout the pandemic for remote learning and in-school mask mandates. But there is little evidence for the effectiveness of either policy. Children are at very low risk of severe illness or death from COVID-19. In-school transmission is also "extremely rare," according to an American Academy of Pediatrics peer-reviewed study.
Remote school has also been detrimental to learning. A Harvard study published in May found students who experienced remote learning in the 2020-2021 school year lost 50 percent of their typical math curriculum learning. Educational disparities were the worst for poor, black, and Latino students.
The schools' contract tracing efforts come as U.S. officials on Wednesday warned of a rise in COVID cases nationwide, urging localities at heightened risk in the Northeast and Midwest to mask indoors. The CDC did not make "concrete predictions" about the severity of the new wave.
The American Academy of Pediatrics in May reported that most students under the age of 12 have not received a COVID vaccine. About half of students between the ages of 12 and 17 have been fully vaccinated.
The Washington Examiner pointed out COVID infections have been higher for vaccinated children under the age of 12 than for the unvaccinated, according to CDC data.