MDH to parents: Keep children home from school, child care if sick, exposed to COVID-19

The Minnesota Department of Health has issued new guidance for parents advising them to keep their children home from school or child care if they are sick, being tested for COVID-19 or have been exposed to the disease. Medical professionals say following the guidance is the key to keeping schools open this fall. 

The COVID-19 Attendance Guide for Parents and Families lays out a number of scenarios and appropriate steps for children, students or staff and provides direction on when to stay home and for how long. Officials are urging parents to be aware and informed of the guidelines and to have a backup plan if their child cannot go to school or child care. 

“The biggest thing we want people to understand is that any Minnesotan–including children–who has been exposed to a confirmed case of COVID-19 needs to stay home for a minimum of 14 days,” MDH infectious disease director Kris Ehresmann said in a statement. “You can’t test out of quarantine after an exposure. There’s no way to shorten the incubation period. So how you spend your time outside of school has a direct impact on your ability to attend school in-person.”

Gov. Tim Walz elbow bumps a student returning to school in Wyoming, Minn. on the first day of school statewide.

“As a parent I know personally that this is not easy on families to adjust to the disruption and try to balance work, but this fall and winter is going to look different,” said Dr. Andrea Singh, a pediatrician with HealthPartners and Park Nicollet. 

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MDH collaborated with the Minnesota Medical Association and the Minnesota chapter of the American Academy of Pediatrics to develop the guidance, which was first published earlier in the year and refined over the summer ahead of the start of the school year.