Below are answers to frequently asked questions regarding COVID testing and quarantine guidelines. The following advice is based on Center for Disease Control Guidelines (CDC) that can be found here and here.
My unvaccinated, asymptomatic child was exposed to COVID. What do I do?
- Your child needs to quarantine* for 14 days from last exposure to the infected person
- Quarantine can be shortened to 10 days if your child is completely asymptomatic (see below for list of COVID symptoms).
- Quarantine can be shortened to 7 days if a negative test (rapid antigen or PCR) is obtained on day 5-7 after exposure.
My unvaccinated child was exposed to COVID-19 and now has symptoms. What do I do?
- Contact us to schedule an appointment to discuss management of your child.
- If your child tests positive for COVID or is strongly believed to have COVID, the child should isolate** at home for 14 days from last exposure or 10 days from development of symptoms.
My vaccinated, asymptomatic child was exposed to COVID-19. What do I do?
- Vaccinated people who have been exposed to COVID-19 do not need to quarantine, however, the CDC recommends they do the following:
- Get a PCR COVID test 3-5 days after exposure
- Wear a mask indoors when in public for 14 days after exposure or until their test result is negative.
- If the person tests positive they should Isolate for 10 days from start of symptoms
- The above advice also applies to people who have had confirmed COVID-19 infection in the past 3 months
What are the symptoms of COVID-19?
- Just like adults, children can have asymptomatic COVID infection or severe symptoms.
- According to the CDC, the following are symptoms of COVID infection in children.
- Nasal congestion or rhinorrhea
- New loss of taste or smell
- Sore throat
- Shortness of breath or difficulty breathing
- Abdominal pain
- Nausea or vomiting
- Poor appetite or poor feeding
- Unfortunately all of the symptoms listed above can also apply to other common pediatric illnesses. If there is a high rate of COVID-19 in a community then testing is the only way to determine if your child has COVID-19.
- Fatigue, Headache, and loss of smell were the most common symptoms reported in a study of 258,790 children published in the Lancet Journal.
How do I get my child tested for COVID-19?
- Visit a COVID-19 Testing Site
- Schedule a Visit with your doctor
- During the visit the doctor will identify when the child should be tested and what test the child should receive.
- A PCR test results will be available in 1-4 days (Result time depends on the lab used and what day of the week the test is ordered. Check with your doctor for a more accurate estimate at the time of the test) and is the most accurate test available.
- A Rapid Antigen test result will be available no later than the end of the day of the test. The Rapid Antigen test is appropriate to use in the first 5 days of symptoms, or days 5-7 after exposure to COVID in an asymptomatic person.
What do I do if my child tests positive for COVID?
- First, don’t panic. While COVID-19 is a scary disease, the vast majority of children who get COVID are asymptomatic or minimally symptomatic.
- Your child needs to Isolate at home for 10 days from the start of symptoms.
- When in isolation, the CDC recommends you do the following:
- Monitor your symptoms. If you have an emergency warning sign (including trouble breathing), seek emergency medical care immediately.
- Stay in a separate room from other household members, if possible.
- Use a separate bathroom, if possible.
- Avoid contact with other members of the household and pets.
- Don’t share personal household items, like cups, towels, and utensils.
- Wear a mask when around other people if able.
- Notify your child’s school and any person who was in close contact with your child for 2 days prior to the start of symptoms that they may have been exposed to COVID-19 and need to quarantine.
My child tested positive for COVID, when can they return to school?
- Children can return to school and are no longer contagious after:
- 10 days since symptoms first appeared and
- 24 hours with no fever without the use of fever-reducing medications and
- Other symptoms of COVID-19 are improving (Loss of taste and smell may persist for weeks or months after recovery and need not delay the end of isolation)
- Please note that these recommendations do not apply to people with severe COVID-19 or with weakened immune systems (immunocompromised).
- Unless your child is immune compromised, it is NOT necessary to get a negative test to prove that the child is no longer contagious. This is a waste of resources and often creates lots of confusion because the PCR test can remain positive for up to 6 weeks after infection.
*People who have been exposed to COVID-19 but are not yet confirmed to have COVID-19 should Quarantine. The quarantined individual should stay home and avoid contact with people outside of the home to prevent possible spread of COVID-19. If possible, the quarantined person should also stay away from people inside the home, especially if they are at high risk for complications with COVID.
**People who are confirmed to have COVID-19 should Isolate. These people should separate themselves from all non-infected people. If possible, the isolated person should stay in their own room and have their own bathroom. When caring for children this is often not possible, but parents should do their best to limit the exposure of uninfected persons in the home to the infected person.