We've received many phone calls regarding testing for COVID and what to do about possible exposures. Below are guidelines from the CDC which hopefully can answer some of your questions.
1. WHAT IF MY CHILD TESTS POSITIVE FOR COVID?
- With symptoms: If your child tests positive and has any symptoms of COVID, he must remain in isolation for at least 10 days after the start of the 1st symptom. He is ok to come out of isolation after a minimum of 10 days, if the last 24 hrs are fever free (without fever reducers) AND symptoms are improving.
- No symptoms: If your child tested positive for COVID without symptoms (for example, a test done prior to attending camp), your child must remain in isolation for 10 days, starting with the date of the positive test. If symptoms develop during that time, refer to the "with symptoms" above.
2. WHAT IF MY CHILD IS EXPOSED TO SOMEONE WITH COVID (KNOWN EXPOSURE)?
First some definitions. The CDC defines a known exposure as someone who has had CLOSE CONTACT with an EXPOSURE.
- CLOSE CONTACT is defined as an individual who has been <6 feet from the exposure for >15 minutes. (irrespective of PPE worn)
- EXPOSURE is defined as being exposed to a person who has tested positive for COVID, from 2 days prior to symptoms starting (or 2 days prior to testing if asymptomatc) until the positive person meets criteria to discontinue isolation (see above)
So, if your child has truly had a known exposure, then he must do the following:
- stay home until 10 days after the last exposure
- monitor for symptoms (fever, cough, shortness of breath)
- if symptoms develop, see criteria above (under part 1, positive with symptoms)
3. MY CHILD HAD A KNOWN EXPOSURE. DOES THE REST OF THE FAMILY NEED TO STAY HOME FOR 10 DAYS?
This one is trickier, but the short answer is no. Only the known exposure needs to stay home for 10 days. However, with young children one parent will obviously need to be home with the child. Try to limit exposures as much as possible in your home (for example, one parent could isolate themselves with the child, wear masks if they are going to be around other members of the family, frequent hand washing, frequent disinfecting, etc). A teenager or young adult could manage to isolate themselves at home.
4. WHO NEEDS TESTING? IF MY CHILD HAS A KNOWN EXPOSURE, SHOULD HE BE TESTED RIGHT AWAY?
If your child has had a known exposure as defined above, he must follow the guidelines listed in part 2 (eg, staying home for 10 days from last exposure). This does NOT change based on a negative COVID test (testing too early could result in a false negative). A COVID swab IS recommended for for a known exposure who develops symptoms.
5. MY CHILD NEEDS A COVID TEST PRIOR TO CAMP/DAYCARE/SCHOOL. CAN I GET THAT DONE AT FHPA?
We can order these, but please keep in mind they may not always be covered by insurance. It is also important to be aware that a negative test does not rule out the possibility that your child (or other children attending camp/daycare/school) could aquire COVID in the time between the testing and camp. If your child were to test positive on this routine screening, he would have to follow the guidelines in part 1 above (positive, no symptoms).
6. HOW CAN I ACCESS MY CHILD'S COVID TEST RESULTS?
Once Forest Hills Pediatrics has received and reviewed your child's test result, you can see and print the result from the patient portal. Once logged in, select your child's name from the list so that his/her name appears in large letters at the top of the home page. Select the "Patient Information" tab and then the "Labs" option at the left. Click on the COVID test and a printable page will appear. (You may have to use Control-P, or Command-P on a Mac, to print.)
7. HOW DO I SCHEDULE A COVID TEST THROUGH SPECTRUM?
8. WHEN CAN MY CHILD RETURN TO SCHOOL IF HE WAS COVID POSITIVE OR HAD AN EXPOSURE?
The Kent County Health Department has an algorithm for students with symptoms of or exposure to COVID. This is the algorithm that needs to be followed in order for students to have clearance to return to school. Here is general information from the CDC regarding operating schools during COVID.