COVID-19 Interim Guidance for Schools
Decision Tree for Evaluating Symptomatic Individuals from Pre-K, K-12 Schools and Day Care Programs
Isolate if ANY of the following symptoms are present: Fever (100.4°F or higher), new onset of moderate to severe headache, shortness of breath, new cough, sore throat, vomiting, diarrhea, new loss of sense of taste or smell, fatigue from unknown cause, muscle or body aches from unknown cause.
When suspicion of COVID-19 is high due to other symptoms, school health officials should isolate students/staff.
Testing is Strongly Recommended for ALL Persons with COVID-19-Like Symptoms, Regardless of Vaccination Status.
COVID-19 diagnostic test positive (confirmed with PCR test or probable with antigen test) OR COVID-like symptoms without COVID-19 testing and exposed to confirmed case (probable case)
For those that can mask upon return, isolate for at least five calendar days from onset of symptoms; return after the five calendars days AND if 24 hours with no fever (without fever-reducing medication), diarrhea and vomiting ceased for 24 hours AND improvement of symptoms AND consistent masking upon return through day 10. If unable to mask, isolate for 10 days.
- Quarantine Close Contacts
The local health department may supply dates as to when a student or staff member can return to school, otherwise schools should permit return consistent with this guidance. Letter from local health department releasing the student or staff member from isolation or quarantine is not required.
Symptomatic individual with a negative COVID19 diagnostic test
Negative COVID-19 diagnostic tests are valid only for the date on which they are collected; specimens collected within 48 hours of onset are acceptable for determining school admission status. If testing is not accessible or delayed, testing within 72 hours would be acceptable, but testing within 48 hours of onset should be promoted (Home Tests are Allowed).
Isolate until symptoms have improved/resolved per return-to-school criteria for diagnosed condition, including fever free for 24 hours, symptoms improving and until 24 hours after diarrhea and vomiting have ceased.. Follow provider directions, recommended treatment and return to school guidance as per school policies and IDPH Communicable Diseases in Schools.
NAAT (PCR) testing/confirmation or serial antigen (2 test 24 hours apart) is recommended if the staff/student is a close contact to a confirmed case, the school is experiencing an outbreak, or the local health department is recommending due to high Community Levels (see CDC Testing Algorithm). In other situations, a negative RT-PCR, rapid molecular (rapid PCR), or negative antigen test is acceptable.
Symptomatic individual without diagnostic testing who is not a known close contact to a confirmed case
For those who can mask upon return, quarantine for at least five calendar days from onset of symptoms; return if 24 hours with no fever (without fever-reducing medication), vomiting and diarrhea have ceased for 24 hours, AND improvement of symptoms AND consistent masking upon return through day 10. If unable to mask, quarantine for 10 days.
- Quarantine Unvaccinated Household Members in the School System
If the ill individual is not tested within 24 hours of first notification of symptoms, household members should be sent home. See FAQ for additional instructions.
Asymptomatic individual who is a close contact to a confirmed or probable COVID-19 case
For those that can mask upon return, quarantine for five days after last exposure to the COVID-19 case and upon return, mask consistently through day 10, or according to test-to-stay protocols. If unable to mask, quarantine for 10 days.
If COVID-19 illness develops, isolate. Testing is recommended.