The Michigan Department of Health and Human Services has released updated K-12 school quarantine and isolation guidance that reflects recent updates made by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). Briefly, these changes modify or shorten quarantine and isolation periods to as little as five days in some situations. This will allow students, teachers and staff to return to school sooner after infection and school-based exposure, under certain circumstances (see below for details).

Districts are advised to check with their local health department to ensure that there are no local quarantine and isolation orders that are more restrictive than the state and federal guidance. Barring that, though, districts should be in the clear to implement these new, shorter timelines.

This is the second time recently that MDHHS has updated isolation and quarantine guidance to align with changes from the CDC. The first time was when similar changes were made to the MDHHS guidance for the general public (a change which is referenced in the new K-12 guidance).

Here is an overview of the new guidance from MDHHS:

Overview of COVID-19 Isolation Guidance for K-12 Schools  

  • Students, teachers & staff who test positive for COVID-19 and/or display COVID-19 symptoms should isolate regardless of vaccination status: 
    • If positive with no symptoms, monitor for symptoms from day of exposure through day 10 of isolation; and 
    • Isolate at home for 5 days (day “0” is day symptoms begin or day test was taken for students, teachers & staff who do not have symptoms); and 
    • If symptoms have improved or you continue to have no symptoms, return to school, while wearing a well-fitted mask, for days 6 -10; or 
    • Stay home for 10 days if unwilling/unable to wear a mask. 

If you have a fever, stay home until you are fever free for a period of 24 hours without the use of fever-reducing medications. 

Overview of COVID-19 Quarantine Guidance for K-12 Schools 

These contacts should still monitor their symptoms and “Mask to Stay” for 10 days from the date of last exposure.  

  • Close contacts of a COVID-19 case who do not meet the criteria above need to quarantine or may test to stay and/or mask to stay. Exposed individuals may: 
    • Home quarantine for days 1-5, if feasible test on day 5, AND “Mask to Stay” for days 6-10; or 
    • Test to Stay for days 1-6 AND “Mask to Stay” for days 1-10; or 
    • Home quarantine for days 1-10 if unable/unwilling to mask 

Students, teachers & staff should monitor for symptoms throughout quarantine period (days 1 through 10). Day “0” is day of last close contact with any COVID-19 positive student, teacher or staff.  If symptoms develop, get tested.  

Symptom Monitoring

During days 0-10 following exposure:

  • Watch for symptoms, such as fever, cough, shortness of breath or other COVID-19 symptoms.
  • If symptoms develop, get tested immediately and isolate until receiving test results. If test is positive, then follow isolation recommendations.
  • If symptoms do not develop, get tested at least five days after last exposed.
  • If possible, stay away from others in the home, especially people who are at higher risk of getting very sick from COVID-19.

For the full 10 days after last exposure, avoid people who are immunocompromised or at high risk for severe disease, and nursing homes and other high-risk settings.


Test to Stay: test every other day for 6 days following the exposure and consistent and correct use of a well-fitted mask.

Mask to Stay: is the consistent and correct use of a well-fitted mask when around others and in school and public settings.

Isolate: when you are already infected with COVID-19 and have tested positive, even if you do not have symptoms. Isolation is used to separate people who are infected with COVID-19 from those who are not infected.  

Quarantine: when you might have been exposed to COVID-19. This is because you might become infected with COVID-19 and could spread COVID-19 to others. 

View the Guidance