Page updated August 18, 2022

On August 11, 2022, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) streamlined its COVID-19 guidance to help people better understand how to protect themselves and others, what actions to take if exposed to COVID-19, and what actions to take if they are sick or test positive.

Our guidance on this page has been updated accordingly.

Local school nurses and administrative personnel should review all information on this page for guidance on how to handle COVID-19 cases, outbreaks, and exposures.

Review the latest guidance from CDC on COVID-19 Isolation and Quarantine for more information. Also, see the following resources:

Separate pages are available for childcare facilities, businesses, and healthcare facilities.

POSITIVE TEST RESULT

Anyone who tests positive for COVID-19 must isolate. Parents/guardians should report a positive test result, including an at-home test, to their child/children’s school. Teachers and other school staff should also report a positive test to school administration.

Length of Isolation Period:

  • Those who test positive for COVID-19 must self-isolate at home for at least 5 full days.
    • The date of symptom onset (or the test date, if asymptomatic) is considered Day 0.
    • Day 1 is the first full day after symptoms begin (or the first full day after the test date, if asymptomatic).
  • Isolation may end after Day 5 (returning to school/other activities on Day 6) if the individual is:
    • Fever-free for at least 24 hours without the use of medications, and
    • Symptoms are improving. Note that some mild symptoms may persist beyond this time period.
  • Returning to daily activities on Day 6 following a positive test is also dependent upon the individual wearing a well-fitting mask at all times while in public.
    • As it is difficult for children to mask at all times in a school setting, administration may decide to require an individual be excluded for 10 full days following a positive test.
    • The Public Health Department supports policies requiring a 10 day isolation period.
    • Schools may set policies that require longer (but not shorter) isolation periods.
    • Families and employees must follow their school’s policies and procedures for returning following a positive COVID-19 test.
  • See the latest guidance for more details:

 

When Notified of a Positive Test Result:

  • Exclude the individual per school policy and guidance above.
  • Gather relevant information about the individual who tested positive, including:
    • When symptoms began (or if they are asymptomatic), and
    • When they were last in the building.
  • Report this information to the Public Health Department at [email protected] or through another method that has been previously established (such as Google Sheets).
  • Review the individual’s activities during their infectious period, the two days prior to symptom onset (or if asymptomatic, the two days prior to the test collection).
  • Determine if any individuals in the school meet the definition of a close contact:
    • Spending a cumulative 15 minutes or more in a 24-hour period within 6 feet of the infected person during their infectious period, or
    • Having direct contact with the infected person during their infectious period.
  • Notify all close contacts of their exposure.
    • See Close Contacts below for more information.

At-Home Tests:

  • You can and should exclude students and staff based on a positive at-home test result.
  • Negative at-home test results should not be used to allow an individual to return (either from isolation or quarantine).
  • Individuals are not exempt from isolation after a repeat positive result (within 90 days of a previous positive) if their initial positive test was only an at-home test and not confirmed by a second test from a health care provider or testing site.
  • Read more about at-home tests in the WI DHS At-Home COVID-19 Tests fact sheet.

 

Outbreak or Significant Increase in Cases:

  • If your school experiences a suspected outbreak (two or more cases which are linked through close contact) or large increase in COVID-19 cases or illness in general, reach out to the Public Health Department at [email protected] or call 262-636-9201. Select Option 1 or 2 (for English or Spanish, respectively) and then Option 5. Leave a message if your call is not answered.
  • When contacting us, provide the following:
    • School name and location,
    • Best contact person and their contact information,
    • Number of ill and exposed students, staff, etc., and
    • Other relevant information based on your school.

 

IMPORTANT:
Due to alterations in COVID-19 disease investigation and contact tracing protocols, not all individuals will be contacted by the Public Health Department after a positive test or notice of close contact. It is essential that schools exclude those who are ill or test positive while also notifying and excluding close contacts, as appropriate.

Schools should not require employees or students to have documentation or a release letter from the Public Health Department for returning to work/school. Schools also should not require those who tested positive for COVID-19 to provide a negative test result prior to returning; instead, follow the guidance above.

CLOSE CONTACTS

Determine Who is a Close Contact:

  • A close contact is someone who meets one of the following criteria:
    • Spending a cumulative 15 minutes or more in a 24-hour period within 6 feet of someone with COVID-19 during their infectious period (the two days prior to symptom onset or the test date, if asymptomatic), or
    • Having direct contact with the infected person during their infectious period.
    • NOTE: For students in an indoor classroom setting or a structured outdoor setting where masks are being used by both parties, the distance to be considered a close contact is reduced to 3 feet. This does not apply to teachers, staff, or other adults in a classroom setting. See Page 17 of the WI DHS School Toolkit for more information.

 

Notify Close Contacts of Exposure and Steps to Follow:

    • If Tested Positive for COVID-19 Within the Past 90 Days:
      • The positive test must have been conducted by a health care provider or authorized testing site; at-home COVID-19 tests DO NOT qualify unless proctored by a health care professional.
      • No need to self-quarantine at home.
      • Must wear a mask for 10 full days (after the exposure) when around others, especially in public. Do not go places where a mask cannot be worn.
      • Monitor for symptoms for 10 days (after the exposure). If symptoms develop, self-isolate immediately and get tested if possible.
      • Take precautions if traveling and avoid being around people who are at higher risk of severe complications from COVID-19.

 

Next Steps:

  • Notify families of children who, per the above guidance, must be excluded from the school.
    • All close contacts should be provided with a school exposure letter.
    • Do not release any information about the individual who tested positive (including whether it was a child or staff member).
    • Inform them of the exposure and that proper actions are taking place, including the exclusion of close contacts who must quarantine.
    • Provide them with their child’s anticipated return date. This must include, at a minimum, 5 full days of quarantine after the date of last exposure.
    • Inform them that they should monitor their children for symptoms of COVID-19.
    • Request that they notify the school if their child develops symptoms or tests positive.
    • Refer them to this website and the resources below for additional information.
  • Notify staff members who have been exposed, and exclude those who must quarantine per the guidance above.
  • Consider closure of affected classrooms, additional targeted cleaning, and reinforcing mask usage and hand hygiene in the building to limit further spread.

 

IMPORTANT:

Due to alterations in COVID-19 disease investigation and contact tracing protocols, not all individuals will be contacted by the Public Health Department after a positive test or notice of close contact. It is essential that schools exclude those who are ill or test positive while also notifying and excluding close contacts, as appropriate.

Schools should not require families or employees to have documentation or a release letter from the Public Health Department for returning to the building; instead, follow the guidance above.

QUESTIONS?

Email [email protected] or call 262-636-9201 and select Option 1, then Option 5. Inform the front desk you are calling from a school with a COVID-19 question or concern and your call will be directed appropriately. If you do not receive an answer, leave a message with your name, the name of the business, contact information, and your question or concern. Your call will be returned as quickly as possible.

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