ELK GROVE (CBS13) — School is back in session at Joseph Simms Elementary. But just one week in, parents showed us a letter sent home that said two students have already tested positive for COVID-19.

“I’m just really scared for my daughter because she’s not vaccinated,” said one parent.

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The letter says the students in first and second grade will quarantine at home for ten days.

But everyone else who was in “close contact” is already back at school.

Gone are the days where every student within six feet would be asked to stay home for up to two weeks. That’s because, as of last Thursday, the California Department of Public Health put in place a less-restrictive system called “modified quarantine.”

Xanthi Soriano, Elk Grove Unified School District says,

“It’s kind of like you’re staying apart and being monitored, but you’re not having to be excluded from school,” said Xanthi Soriano with Elk Grove Unified.

This means students who were in “close contact” can be back at school – as long as they’re asymptomatic, wear a mask, get tested bi-weekly, and opt-out of all extracurriculars.

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The Sacramento County Health Department says the new guidance prioritizes keeping kids in the classroom.

“The CDC guidance is based on some studies from other jurisdictions that brought students back last year and saw distancing was less of a factor in preventing COVID-19 then masking was,” said Nick Mills, Program Planner with the Sacramento County Department of Health.

County leaders say studies show, as long as students are wearing masks all day, it’s safe – even for kids who were exposed.

But it’s terrifying to parents like Bianca Villaflor.

“Our children are at risk, so I don’t think it’s time to be lax on the guidelines,” she said.

She’s now asking parents to sign her petition to the district asking for stronger masking and quarantine policies for all grades, in hopes of protecting unvaccinated students.

“We want our kids to get back to school myself included, but under safe guidelines,” Villafor said.

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The guidance says kids don’t have to wear masks during lunch or recess, or stay six feet apart. The district can put stricter policies in place than the county or state, but not less.

Marissa Perlman