Quarantines at school: only after five pupils test positive

Ministry and regional governments establish that there will be no preventive isolation if only four students test positive

2 min
Children wearing masks at playground time at a Barcelona school

BarcelonaJust before pupils go back to school, the Public Health Commission has agreed this Friday to eliminate quarantines in schools from Monday and only apply them in classes where a minimum of five students or 20% of the total test positive. In this case, the isolation period will not exceed seven days, the same time that is kept for the general population. This means groups in which under five cases are detected will continue with their regular classroom activity, except for the sick students, as it is considered to be a "sporadic" situation that does not need any preventive isolation.

The decision represents a change with the current protocol, in which it only took two positive cases for a class to be sent home, and only students who were close contacts and had not been fully vaccinated had to isolate. The Commission, formed by the Ministry of Education and regional governments, insists that the new quarantine protocol aims to promote and guarantee "attendance as much as possible" and, in this sense, stresses that hygienic measures are reinforced, such as the obligation to wear masks at all times (even in the playground), have cross ventilation in the classroom and regularly wash hands.

In the protocol approved at the beginning of the week, it was foreseen that fully vaccinated students would not have to isolate even if they were close contacts, but the effect of the Omicron variant is being felt especially among the younger and school-age groups. However, it should also be noted that the effects are now much milder than with the previous dominant variants, and especially that far more pupils have been vaccinated. More than a quarter of children aged between five and twelve in Catalonia have already received their first dose. In addition, the Commission stresses the fact that schools have been "safe environments in terms of virus transmission" since the pandemic began.