Utah to follow new CDC quarantine guidelines, but no mask requirement at school

Jan 3, 2022, 3:41 PM | Updated: Aug 2, 2022, 12:37 pm
Council mask order...
30-day mask mandate applies to students. FILE: Anastazia Dall works in her first grade class at Nibley Park School in Salt Lake City on Tuesday, Aug. 24, 2021. Spenser Heaps, Deseret News

SALT LAKE CITY — Utah health officials say that schools, workplaces, and communities will be asked to follow new quarantine and mask guidelines from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. 

But those guidelines won’t change a state law that says school districts cannot require students wear masks.

New CDC quarantine guidelines 

The new CDC quarantine guidelines say if someone tests positive for COVID-19, they should stay home for five days, even if they aren’t showing any symptoms (are asymptomatic.)

Five days after quarantining, and there are no remaining symptoms, Utah health officials say it’s okay to leave the house. But they recommend a mask still be worn in public for another five days.

Not everybody needs to quarantine, however.  The CDC said if a person is exposed and they are fully vaccinated with a booster shot within the last six months, that person does not need to quarantine at home. But, that person should wear a mask for 10 days after exposure.

For those who are unvaccinated and exposed, the CDC recommends five-day isolation and then wearing a mask in public for another five days, unless they experience symptoms. 

For the vaccinated and unvaccinated alike, the CDC and state health officials now recommend another test after five days after exposure to COVID-19.

What about Utah schools and masks?

Despite the new CDC and health department recommendations, Utah school districts cannot require students to wear a mask at school, even if they have been exposed to COVID-19.

“State law prohibits a district from having a mask mandate unless it’s ordered by the county health department or a health order,” Canyons School District Spokesman Jeff Haney told KSL NewsRadio.

Further, any health order needs to be approved by the elected officials who govern that health department. Nobody but a parent can enforce a mask mandate upon a student, in Utah schools.

“It’s really going to be up to parents making the right choice,” said Utah Department of Health spokesman Jenny Johnson.

Jessica Lowell and Lindsay Aerts contributed to the writing of this story.

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