COVID-19 and Schools


COVID-19 & School Guidance Information

Press Releases:


Frequently Asked Questions:


Are children required to wear masks indoors in K-12 schools and other youth settings?

  • Yes, they are required to mask indoors, with exemptions per CDPH face mask guidance.   Adults in K-12 school settings are required to mask when sharing indoor spaces with students.  


Are children required to wear a mask during recess outdoors?

  • Masks are optional outdoors for all in K-12 school settings.



What is Quarantine?

  • Quarantine is the physical separation of someone who has been exposed to someone who is ill or infectious with a communicable disease such as COVID. It used to slow the transmission of disease in a community.
  • Quarantine is for someone who is NOT yet symptomatic or ill but may or may not become ill.
  • The Quarantine period for COVID-19 is 10 days from the last contact with the ill or infectious person.
  • If the person in quarantine becomes symptomatic (ill) or tests positive for COVID-19, then they will be Isolated according to the standard isolation period for COVID-19.

What does it mean for a child to quarantine?

  • Children under quarantine should stay home. They should not leave the home except for medical care.
  • They can be in private outdoor spaces in their home that are not shared with other households (i.e. private backyards).
  • They cannot go to parks, playground, or other public spaces.
  • They cannot attend schools, childcare, or other programs for children and youth.
  • They cannot have playdates with other children at their home or interact with people outside their immediate household, such as babysitters, grandparents, etc.
  • They should not visit relatives, and should especially not interact with anyone who is at higher risk for severe illness from COVID-19 such as the elderly.


Does my whole family need to quarantine if only one person/child in the household was identified as a Close Contact?

  • No, only the child/person who was in direct contact with the infectious person must quarantine.
  • All other household members to a close contact can continue normal activities, unless the person/child who is quarantined becomes symptomatic or tests positive for COVID-19.


Close Contact vs. General Exposure risk

  • Being a person at general exposure risk is NOT the same as being a Close Contact of someone who is infected.
  • Close Contact defined: Someone who was within 6 feet of someone with COVID-19 for at least 15 minutes (cumulative over a 24 hour period), during the time that the person with COVID-19 was infectious.
    • A person is considered a close contact regardless of mask use if they meet the definition above.
  • General Exposure Risk: People who are at general exposure risk were present at the site on the same day, but do NOT meet the criteria of a close contact.
    • These people have a much lower risk of getting infected than the close contacts, and therefore do NOT have to quarantine.
    • People with general exposure risk may be told that someone at the school, childcare or program had confirmed COVID-19, but that they were NOT identified as a close contact.
    • People with general exposure risk may monitor for COVID-19 symptoms, but do NOT need to quarantine or get tested if they do not have symptoms.


      • Example of a Close Contact: Your child is in the same class that the infectious child attended and may have directly interacted with the sick or infectious child.
      • Example of a general exposure: Your child is in the 5th grade class at the school where a 2nd grade student attended school on the same day. Your child had NO direct contact with the infectious child.


Who are typical Close Contacts in school or programs for children and youth?

  • All staff and children in the same class or school program (i.e. after school programs) as the person with COVID-19 are considered close contacts.
  • Close contact also includes people who live with, take care of, or are taken care of by the person with COVID 19.
    • This includes siblings, other family members, and caregivers.
  • Additional situations that involve close contact include carpooling, eating together, and socializing together outside of school.


Quarantine Recommendations

  • Vaccinated and asymptomatic
    • Can refrain from quarantine following a known exposure to someone with suspected or confirmed COVID-19. Fully vaccinated persons are recommended to be tested 3-5 days after exposure and wear a mask in public indoor settings for 14 days.
  • Unvaccinated students for exposures when both parties were wearing a mask
    • When both parties were wearing a mask in any school setting in which students are supervised by school staff (including indoor or outdoor school settings and school buses, including on buses operated by public and private school systems), unvaccinated students who are close contacts (more than 15 minutes over a 24-hour period within 0-6 feet) may undergo a modified quarantine as follows. They may continue to attend school for in-person instruction if they:

      a. Are asymptomatic;

      b. Continue to appropriately mask, as required;

      c. Undergo at least twice weekly testing during quarantine; and

      d. Continue to quarantine for all extracurricular activities at school, including sports, and activities within the community setting.

  • Quarantine duration recommendations for unvaccinated close contacts in:

    • Standard quarantine (i.e., students who were not wearing masks or for whom the infected individual was not wearing a mask during the exposure); OR

    • Modified quarantine (i.e., students as described in above).

      a. These contacts, if they remain asymptomatic (meaning they have NOT had any symptoms), may discontinue self-quarantine under the following conditions:

             i. Quarantine can end after Day 10 from the date of last exposure without testing; OR

             ii. Quarantine can end after Day 7 if a test specimen (i.e., antigen diagnostic test, PCR/molecular diagnostic test, or pooled PCR/molecular test) is collected on or after Day 5 from the date of last exposure and tests negative.

      b. To discontinue quarantine before 14 days following last known exposure, asymptomatic close contacts should:

             i. Continue daily self-monitoring for symptoms through Day 14 from last known exposure; AND

             ii. Follow all recommended non-pharmaceutical interventions (e.g., wearing a mask when around others, hand washing, avoiding crowds) through Day 14 from last known exposure.

      c. If any symptoms develop during this 14-day period, the exposed person must immediately isolate, get tested and contact their healthcare provider with any questions regarding their care.


What do I do if my child is in Quarantine and develops symptoms (becomes ill)?

  • You should monitor the child/person for symptoms daily. If they become ill during quarantine with COVID like illness, they should begin isolation period of 10 days from the onset of symptoms.
    • They will need to be isolated through the point that they are fever-free without medications for at least 24 hours and for a minimum of 10 days total.
  • Most children who become infected with COVID-19 develop mild illness similar to the flu and can be treated at home.
    • Testing is not required for a person who has a known exposure to COVID-19 but can be obtained through your healthcare provider or a community testing site.
    • If your child has pre-existing medical conditions (i.e. diabetes, asthma, etc.) you should contact your child’s primary healthcare provider when they become ill.
    • If your child’s symptoms worsen, you should contact their primary healthcare provider.
    • If your child develops severe symptoms such as shortness of breath, trouble breathing, persistent pain or pressure in the chest, confusion, inability to wake or stay awake, or bluish lips or face, you should seek immediate medical attention.

Duration of Isolation for Vaccinated/Unvaccinated People

  • Symptomatic
    • At least 10 days since symptom onset, and one may end it when at least 24 hours have passed since resolution of fever without the use of fever-inducing medications and other symptoms have improved.
  • Asymptomatic
    • At least 10 days since the date of the first positive COVID-19 diagnostic test. If they develop symptoms, then the strategies for discontinuing self-isolation for symptomatic persons (see above) should be used.

COVID-19 Symptoms

  • People with COVID-19 have had a wide range of symptoms reported – ranging from mild symptoms to severe illness. Symptoms may appear 2-14 days after exposure to the virus. People with these symptoms may have COVID-19:
    • Fever or chills
    • Cough
    • Shortness of breath or difficulty breathing
    • Fatigue
    • Muscle or body aches
    • Headache
    • New loss of taste or smell
    • Sore throat
    • Congestion or runny nose
    • Nausea or vomiting
    • Diarrhea


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