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COVID-19 Symptoms, Exposures, and Case FAQ


AUSD is committed to following orders and guidelines issued by public health authorities, including the California Department of Public Health and the Alameda County Public Health Department. These orders and guidelines can be confusing  and have changed frequently during the pandemic in response to ever-changing public health conditions. The orders and guidance, however, are based on sound epidemiological and public health principles. This FAQ is designed to answer some of the most frequently asked questions we are receiving about how and why AUSD responds to COVID-19 symptoms, exposures, and cases. 

positive cases and symptomatic students

Someone in my child’s class tested positive for COVID...what happens now?  

If a member of a class cohort tests positive for COVID, that cohort, including the teacher and any other staff that is regularly in that cohort, has to quarantine for a 14-day period. That’s because each person in the class cohort is presumed to have been in close contact with the person who tested positive. The teacher also has to quarantine. In that case, the district will try to find a substitute for the other cohort.  


What is “close contact”? 

Public health agencies define close contact as having been within 6 feet (even masked) for more than 15 minutes within a 24 hour period. ·        


What happens if my child tests positive for COVID-19? 

 Your student will need to isolate for 10 days.  You should consult with your healthcare provider. School staff will work with you to determine your student’s close contacts on campus and provide you with information about how best to care for your child. The Alameda County Public Health Department will contact you to identify close contacts outside of school.


For more information, please review ACPHD’s “If My Child Has a Positive Test for COVID-19” fact sheet.


My child is showing some potential symptoms, what should I do?   

First, please indicate your child’s symptoms on the daily health screener if they are new or different than your child's usual health. ACPHD asks that you use your own understanding of your child's health to make determination.  If the symptoms are unusual for your child, do not  send them to school. Instead, contact your healthcare provider and ask to get the child tested.


For more information, please review ACPHD’s “If My Child Has Symptoms” fact sheet.


My child tested positive by AUSD, but our healthcare provider retested them and they are negative.  Can they come back to school? 

No.  ACPHD has advised AUSD that subsequent testing does not override the need for positive cases to “isolate” for 10 days as determined by the initial testing. This is because the viral load in your child may have dropped below detection levels by the time they are tested, but your child may still be infectious. As such, the district needs to respond to the initial positive result. This direction may change in the future depending on community spread, but ultimately we cannot make these decisions. Instead the district and our schools must follow county direction.


I have been told that my child should quarantine. What does that mean?  

Quarantine means that your child should stay home, away from others, as much as possible.  

Public health agencies recommend a minimum of 10 days for quarantine (if we can identify and notify people who are high risk).   AUSD has chosen to extend this to 14 days. This is because ACPHD has made it clear that 14 days of quarantine is the safest strategy, especially for large districts where it is not feasible to know and track all people who are considered high risk.  


For more information about quarantining, please see AUSD’s “Return After Quarantine” fact sheet, which is based on ACPHD guidance. 

How can we reduce the risk that my child will spread the virus to other members of our household? 

The strategies for reducing the transmission of COVID-19 within your household include:


  • Wear a mask

  • Maintain social distancing

  • Wash your hands frequently

  • Avoid sharing items

  • Optimize ventilation, including by keeping doors and windows open

  • Clean surfaces frequently

For more information, please review ACPHD’s “Home isolation and Quarantine Instructions for People with COVID-19 and Their Household or Close Contacts” fact sheets.


If one of my children has been ordered to quarantine, can my other children in the in-person learning program go to school?  

Yes. Siblings and family members do not need to quarantine, as long as others in the household were also not in “close contact” with the person who tested positive (within 6 feet (even masked) for more than 15 minutes within a 24 hour period).  If the student that is quarantined begins to develop symptoms,  they would then start their own isolation period, and you should contact the healthcare provider. At that point, the rest of the household would need to begin a 14-day quarantine.


We realize that this may raise concerns. However, thinking about it as your child quarantining as a precaution because she was in close contact with someone that tested positive helps to frame this quarantine as a preventative measure. 


For more information, please review ACPHD’s “Home isolation and Quarantine Instructions for People with COVID-19 and Their Household or Close Contacts” fact sheets. The CDC’s “Households Living in Close Quarters” fact sheet is also helpful.


Does our whole family need to quarantine? 

Not necessarily. Family members generally only need to quarantine if they develop symptoms or if they are directed to quarantine by your healthcare provider.

If my child is in quarantine, do they need a test before they can return to school? 

Students who are quarantining do not need to test to return. However, they need to quarantine for the full 14 days, even if they get a negative test. That’s because they can develop symptoms or become infectious at any time during that period.

Why aren’t only “close contacts” in the cohort being asked to quarantine? 

The Alameda County Public Health Department wants all students in a cohort to quarantine because they are part of one stable group.  In a school environment, students often move about to different areas in the classroom and interact with each other throughout the day, especially the younger the students.


Do we have to get tested when in quarantine? 

You are not required to have your student tested while s/he is in quarantine, although ACPHD does recommend it. Please note that you cannot have your child tested at an AUSD testing site while in quarantine (you will need an outside provider). And students who test negative will still need to stay home the entire 10 days. This is because your child may become positive later.  Testing in quarantine is just a tool to ensure that if they are positive that they begin isolation and any of their close contact would then need to enter quarantine. That is why public health experts recommend that people get tested 4-10 days after exposure to a known positive case.


How do we answer the Daily Screening if our student is in quarantine?  

In responding to the Daily Health Screening, you should answer the question "Do you live in the same household or have you...?" with the response option "Told by a public health or medical professional to isolate or quarantine."


How do we quarantine our child from their siblings within the same household?    

We know this is difficult, especially for younger children. We recommend taking a look at ACPHD’s “Home isolation and Quarantine Instructions for People with COVID-19 and Their Household or Close Contacts” fact sheets. The CDC’s “Households Living in Close Quarters” fact sheet is also helpful.



For school site concerns, please contact the Health Office Assistant. You can also contact:


Susan Davis

Senior Manager, Community Affairs

COVID-19 Liaison


Karen Allen

District Nurse

COVID-19 Liaison


Sandra Hoffman-Dorrance

District Nurse

COVID-19 Liaison