Responding to Cases of COVID or Exposure

RESPONDING TO CASES OF COVID OR EXPOSURE

What To Do if Someone Develops Symptoms of Covid 19 While at School

Any student, teacher, or staff who reports COVID-19-like symptoms must be immediately isolated from others and be sent home and referred to diagnostic testing as soon as feasible. 

 

While waiting to leave school, the individual with symptoms must be isolated in a designated isolation space. They must wear a cloth face covering or mask. Anyone providing care or evaluation to the isolated individual must wear appropriate PPE.

 

If no appropriate indoor space is available (e.g., already occupied) and the child can be supervised and made comfortable, an outdoor setting is an acceptable emergency alternative if weather and privacy permitting.

 

What To Do if Someone Visited School While Contagious

If someone visited a school while contagious with COVID-19, it is possible that students, staff, and/or guests may have been exposed. Close contacts of a person with COVID-19 should be identified to determine if they must quarantine; school or district health staff should be contacted to coordinate this process.

 

 WHAT TO DO IF SOMEONE IS A CLOSE CONTACT OF SOMEONE WITH COVID

Generally, a close contact is someone who was within six feet of a person with COVID-19 for at least 15 cumulative minutes over a 24-hour period during the period of time when the person with COVID-19 was infectious. The infectious period of someone with COVID-19 starts two days before the onset of symptoms or is estimated as two days before the positive test collection date if someone with COVID-19 is asymptomatic.

 

In a K-12 indoor classroom, the close contact definition excludes students who were at least three feet away from an infected student when 

  • Both students were wearing face coverings/masks and
  • Other prevention strategies were in place.

This exception does not apply to teachers, staff, or other adults in the indoor classroom setting.  

 

The ultimate determination of close contact is made by the local health jurisdiction during its investigation; it may delegate this determination if appropriate.

 

 QUARANTINE

To quarantine means when someone who has been exposed to COVID-19 stays home and away from others for the recommended period of time in case they were infected and are contagious. People who may be exempt from quarantine: 

  • Close contacts who are fully vaccinated and do not have symptoms, do not need to quarantine but should watch for symptoms and get tested if symptoms develop. 
  • Close contact who had confirmed COVID-19 in the past three months, have recovered and do not have symptoms, do not need to quarantine but should watch for symptoms and get tested if symptoms develop. 

If a close contact is neither fully vaccinated nor recovered from confirmed COVID-19 in the past three months and does not have symptoms, the close contact must be quarantined. 

 

Close contacts with symptoms of COVID-19 should follow the steps under the section above, What to Do if Someone Develops Symptoms of COVID-19 While at School.

 

RESPONDING TO CASES OF COVID

Isolation

 

If a person tests positive for COVID-19, they can return to school when the following criteria are met:

  • 10 days since symptom onset, or since positive test specimen collection date if no symptoms are present (up to 20 days for those for those who are severely ill or severely immunocompromised), AND
  • 24 hours after fever resolves without use of fever-reducing medications, AND
  • Symptoms have improved 

This isolation guidance applies regardless of vaccination status.

 

If a person with COVID-19 symptoms tests negative for SARS-CoV-2 with a molecular test, they may return to school following existing school illness management policies so long as they are not a close contact of someone with COVID-19 and subject to quarantine. 

 

If a person with COVID-19 symptoms tests negative for SARS-CoV-2 with an antigen test, per CDC antigen testing guidance, a confirmatory lab-based molecular test is recommended. An alternative to confirmatory NAAT testing is serial antigen testing performed every 3–7 days for 14 days.


If a person with COVID-19 symptoms does not get tested for SARS-CoV-2 or see a healthcare provider and is given an alternative diagnosis, they should follow the same isolation guidance as persons who test positive for SARS-CoV-2. This is irrespective of vaccination status.