COVID-19 Exposure FAQs

Below are some of the FAQs parents have when they learn their child was exposed to someone with COVID-19. The answers are based on the data, medical knowledge, and recommendations of the CDC and VDH as of the most recent update February 2, 2022. Please call our office with any additional questions.

My child has been exposed to someone with COVID-19, now what?

If unvaccinated, your child should stay home for 5 days and get tested around day 5. If that test is negative, your child has no symptoms, and (s)he can wear a well-fitting mask around others through the 10th day after exposure, quarantine can end early. Anyone who develops symptoms after the test date and before the 10th day following exposure should isolate and get retested. ***Note that schools, daycares and employers have the right to require alternate criteria such as 10 days. Please familiarize yourself with their policies. We cannot write a letter overriding their requirements.***

If your child completed the two-dose COVID-19 vaccine series greater than 6 months before the exposure date, (s)he should follow the same protocol as an unvaccinated individual.

If your child completed the two dose COVID-19 vaccine series less than 6 months prior to exposure, or has been boosted, quarantining is not necessary but these individuals should wear masks around others for 10 days following exposure and get a screening test approximately 5 days after exposure. Any individual in this group who develops symptoms within 10 days of exposure should isolate immediately and get tested to ensure the symptoms are not due to COVID-19.

My child is in quarantine because of a COVID-19 exposure, does (s)he need to be tested?

Yes, testing is recommended. Some patients with COVID-19 do not have symptoms but can still spread the virus. Testing your child will tell us if the rest of your family also needs to be tested. If your child tests positive, all household members should also be tested and follow the applicable quarantine guidelines outlined FAQ#1. If your child is unvaccinated and you prefer not to test, (s)he should quarantine 10 days while monitoring for development of symptoms.

If my child needs to be tested due to an exposure, when is the best time to get tested for COVID-19?

For symptom-free individuals, we recommend approximately 5 days from exposure, as this is the average time it takes to develop symptoms. If your child develops COVID-19 symptoms prior to 5 days, earlier testing may be considered. Please note: we try to reserve all weekend and Monday appointments for urgent, symptomatic patients. If your child does not have symptoms, you may be asked to wait until Tuesday to come in for testing.

Which COVID-19 test should my child get if they have been exposed?

We recommend the PCR test (also know as the “send-out test”) for symptom-free individuals who have been exposed to an individual with COVID-19. PCRs give us fewer false-negative (i.e. says you don’t have COVID-19 when you actually do) and false-positive (i.e. says you have COVID-19 when you don’t) results in the symptom-free. Rapid tests for exposed individuals are sometimes used if symptoms are present, or as a screen in symptom-free, fully vaccinated or boosted individuals. In symptomatic patients we may consider a rapid test, but then send a PCR too if the rapid test is negative. We will discuss at your testing appointment which test is most appropriate given your child’s unique circumstances.

Does the rest of our family have to quarantine if just one of our children was exposed?

If your child’s test is normal and (s)he is symptom-free, the rest of the family does not need to quarantine. If the exposed child has symptoms, but has not yet been tested, unvaccinated household members should quarantine.

What should we do if one of our children is diagnosed with COVID-19, but the other(s) has/have negative (i.e. normal) tests.

Unless the COVID-positive child can truly be isolated within the home (e.g. basement, third floor, own bedroom/bathroom, etc.) without sharing spaces with the rest of the family, that child should be considered contagious to siblings for 10 days from onset of symptoms or date of positive test, whichever is earlier. If the COVID-19 negative siblings (1) are unvaccinated, or (2) were vaccinated more than 6 months ago and are not boosted, they should quarantine a minimum of 5 days beyond their last exposure to the COVID-19 positive individual, and get re-tested.

One of my children has COVID-19. Do vaccinated siblings and parents have to quarantine?

See FAQ#1 above. NO, if they remain symptom-free and vaccination series completed less than 6 months ago, or if boosted.

My child was exposed to COVID-19. Test around day 5 from exposure was normal. (S)he has since developed fever or other possible COVID-19 symptoms.  What should I do?

Please call our office to have your child re-evaluated and retested.