TALLAHASSEE, FL – Fresh off of being appointed to the position by Florida Governor Ron DeSantis, the state’s new Surgeon General, Dr. Joseph A. Ladapo, issued a new emergency rule on his first full day in office that immediately drops the school quarantine requirement for students who have been exposed to COVID-19.
The new rule – 64DER21-15 – mandates that if a child has been exposed to COVID-19, it is now the parent’s choice whether or not they should remain at home; if a student remains asymptomatic, they are now allowed to go to school without having been tested. Previously, students would have to stay off campus for four days to quarantine, and would require a negative COVID test result in order to return to school.
However, if a student does display symptoms of COVID-19 or they have a positive test result for the virus, the rule states that the child in question “shall not attend school, school-sponsored activities, or be on school property.”
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The rule also affects the ability of schools to mandate the wearing of masks for students and staff; districts are allowed to issue mandates if they so choose, but “the school must allow for a parent or legal guardian of the student to opt the student out of wearing a face covering or mask at the parent or legal guardian’s sole discretion.”
The new rule also encourages – but does not mandate – regular cleaning of school areas and surfaces, as well as regular hand washing by students and teachers.
Dr. Ladapo is a Harvard-trained doctor who was previously a researcher at UCLA, and like DeSantis, he is reportedly very much opposed to “restrictive” measures aimed at curbing the spread of COVID-19, such as mask and vaccine mandates.
The new rule has been signed by Dr. Ladapo and is immediately in effect.