The New Jersey Department of Health has updated its guidance on isolation and quarantine period for both the public and health care providers based on new recommendations from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, according to a news release.

“Based on the latest science and data – that demonstrates transmission occurs early on in the course of illness – new isolation and quarantine recommendations have been developed to address the spread of COVID-19,” said Health Commissioner Judith Persichilli. “This data underscores the importance of vaccination, especially receiving a booster dose. The department encourages vaccination against COVID-19 for everyone 5 and older and boosters for everyone 16 and older to help slow the spread of COVID-19 in our state.”

NJDOH is in the process of updating guidance documents for the general public to reflect the CDC’s guidance, which shortens the recommended time for isolation from 10 days for individuals with COVID-19 to five days, if they do not have symptoms, followed by five days of wearing a mask when around others.

NJDOH is adopting changes to the recommended quarantine period for members of the general public who have been exposed to COVID-19. Per the CDC, individuals who are unvaccinated or are more than six months out from their second dose of Moderna or Pfizer vaccine or more than two months after the Johnson & Johnson vaccine and not yet boosted, should quarantine for five days followed by strict mask use for an additional five days. Individuals who have received their booster vaccine do not need to quarantine following an exposure, however they should wear a mask for 10 days after the exposure.

NJDOH is also updating its guidance to reflect CDC recommendations on isolation and quarantine for health care workers to decrease isolation time after COVID-19 illness. Health care workers with COVID-19 who are without symptoms can return to work after seven days with a negative test, and isolation time can be reduced further if there are staffing shortages. Health care workers who have received all recommended COVID-19 vaccine doses, including a booster, do not need to quarantine at home following high-risk exposures.

The department also released the following guidance documents:

The department’s guidance includes information on the “Test to Stay” option for keeping students in their classes. In a Facebook post, the department stated, “Test to stay allows asymptomatic, unvaccinated students who were exposed to a person with COVID-19 in any school setting where students are supervised by school staff — indoors, outdoors or on school buses — to continue in-person academic activities that are part of the regular school curriculum and provided during school hours.

“Students participating in Test to Stay are required to comply with enhanced testing and masking recommendations and to quarantine when not in school. If schools are considering implementing Test to Stay policies, they should have robust contact tracing in place and access to testing resources. They should also obtain advanced consent for testing of the students. Schools must report individual test results to local public health officials and to the individual who provided consent. This Test to Stay option does not apply to exposures that occur outside of school or in the community.”