By Peter D'Oench

MIAMI(CBSMIAMI)—- Miami-Dade Schools Superintendent Alberto Carvalho announced a change in the quarantine policy for high school students and employees that would reduce the number of days in quarantine for those contracting the coronavirus.

Carvalho told CBS4’s Peter D’Oench that the policy is being modified as of Monday and will mean that the 10-day quarantine period would be reduced to five days.

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“We are seeing signs that are encouraging,” said Carvalho.

“The change will result in individuals being quarantined for no less than 5 days,” he said. He said after 5 days, they could take a PCR test and if was negative, they would be allowed to return to school. He said they could probably return within 7 to 8 days.

Carvalho said this was based on input from the school system’s health experts and improving conditions and a decline in the number of cases.

“We are optimistic and encouraged by the signs we are seeing,” he said.

“Seventy percent of those 12 and older are fully vaccinated in Miami-Dade and that is encouraging,” he said. “In MIami-Dade we follow strict protocols such as social distancing and intensive ionization at our schools and the mandatory use of masks indoors.”

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“The extensive protocols should reduce the chance of any schools closing as a result of infections,” he said.

Carvalho said the school system based its decision on a series of metrics or measurements.

“The metrics considered are number that the 7-day average of COVID-19 cases per 100,000 residents be less than 100,” he said. “That means the 7-day average of COVID cases per 100,000 people has to be below 100 for the past 2 weeks. By the time school started the number of cases was 760 per 100,000. That was a 10-fold increase. Now there are 333 cases per 100,000 and that is a significant decline and thus could be very good news.”

“The 2nd metric,” he said, “was that 80 percent of eligible children have at least one dose of the vaccine and 60 percent be fully vaccinated.”

He said other metrics included the number of hospital admissions and hospital beds being used as well as criteria from the CDC showing a downward trend.

On Friday afternoon, United Teachers of Dade President Karla Hernandez-Mats released the following statement regarding the newly issued quarantine guidelines by the CDC:

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“We agree with the latest guidelines issued by the CDC. UTD continues to follow the advice of medical experts and public health agencies. We encourage everyone who can, to get fully vaccinated and wear their masks, especially to protect children under 12 who do not yet have access to the vaccine.”

Peter D'Oench