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Florida surgeon general: Students exposed to COVID can attend class if asymptomatic

Under the new rules, Florida parents have more of a say over masks and quarantines.

KISSIMMEE, Fla. — Just one day after being appointed as Florida's new surgeon general, Dr. Joseph Ladapo has rewritten the state's COVID-19 rules in schools, giving parents more of a say over masks and quarantine measures.

The new rules allow schools to adopt mask requirements for students but give parents "sole discretion" over whether or not they want their children to wear them, a more relaxed stance than Gov. Ron DeSantis' all-out ban on mask mandates. The state is currently locked in a court battle over its ban on masks after several school districts defied the governor's orders.

However, Dr. Ladapo's emergency order did not stop at masks. He also gave parents the choice to send their children to in-person classes after being exposed to someone who tests positive for COVID-19 so long as they don't show symptoms.

Speaking at a news conference in Kissimmee, Gov. Ron DeSantis said quarantining children does more harm than good by forcing students and parents to stay home. 

He added that he supports quarantining students who are sick. 

Ladapo pointed to a lack of "high-quality data" showing the benefits of quarantining students from school as one of the reasons behind his decision. 

USF associate professor Dr. Jill Roberts says, we have to remember the nature of this virus.  

"The virus can spread long before anyone is symptomatic," she said. 

With children under 12 still unable to get vaccinated, and now another preventative measure no longer being enforced, Dr. Roberts says we could be looking at more spread and the creation of more variants. 

"When you have children that cannot be vaccinated, we are the ones that are supposed to protect them and put all the things in place that are possible."

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention currently recommends quarantining students who may have been exposed to COVID-19 if they are not fully vaccinated, regardless of symptoms. However, the CDC says fully vaccinated students should only be quarantined if they show symptoms. 

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