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Minneapolis Public Schools has announced it is reducing the mandatory quarantine period for students or staff who have been exposed to COVID-19 in school.

In a memo to parents Thursday, MPS said its quarantine period will shorten from 14 to 10 days for unvaccinated students or staff who are deemed to have been in "close contact" with someone who tests positive for COVID-19.

The new quarantine period goes into effect from Friday, though quarantines that have already started should continue for the full 14 days. MPS says it may still require 14-day quarantines on a case-by-case basis, which will be determined by the number of people infected, the timing, and the "exposure risk."

It comes after more than 580 parents signed a petition and several made arguments to the school board on Tuesday, stating that Minneapolis' quarantine protocols were more onerous than those of neighboring school districts in the Twin Cities, and it was placing pressure on families and children as a result.

Minnesota Department of Health still states that a 14-day quarantine period for exposures – covering the entire estimated incubation period for COVID-19 – remains the "safest" recommendation for schools.

But parents had argued that the academic, economic, social, emotional, and mental health impact on students and parents – some of whom may lose income as a result – is of greater risk than the potential that exposed children present with COVID-19 symptoms between days 11-14 (symptoms most commonly appear 4-5 days after exposure).

MPS says research shows that changing the quarantine period from 14 days to 10 days "indicates only a 1% risk for increased contagion."

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"MPS is reducing the required quarantine to ensure as much in-person student learning as possible and is doing so after discussion with the health experts on our COVID-19 Regional Support Team," it said.

Students over the age of 12 who are fully vaccinated do not have to quarantine provided they do not have any symptoms of COVID-19.

Staff members who are unvaccinated will also only have to quarantine for 10 days henceforth. However, Friday also marks the start of MPS' requirement that all school employees, contractors and volunteers be vaccinated, or undergo regular testing.

MPS continues to have a face mask mandate in all of its buildings.

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