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 and medical knowledge we have as of the most recent update September 9, 2021. Please call our office with any additional questions.

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

All unvaccinated individuals who are exposed must quarantine for 14 days from the last known date of exposure.  For example, your child’s classmate misses school Friday because he is not feeling well then gets seen by his doctor and tests positive on Saturday.  Your child would need to quarantine for 14 days from Thursday – the last day your child was exposed to the COVID-positive classmate. Keep in mind the last day of exposure is considered day 0, not day 1 of quarantine.

What about the alternative, shortened quarantine guidelines published by the CDC and VDH?

Both health agencies still recommend a 14 day quarantine following exposure, as it can take up to that long to develop symptoms. That said, per the VDH link below “If you are not able to stay home for 14 days after your last exposure and you do not have symptoms [bold and italics added for emphasis], you have 2 options:

  • Counting your date of last exposure as Day 0, you may leave home after Day 10 [without testing]; or
  • If PCR or antigen testing is available, you can get tested on or after Day 5. You may leave home after Day 7 if the PCR or antigen test performed on or after Day 5 is negative.”

Please note that even if your child meets these alternative quarantine criteria, schools and daycares may still require 14 days to pass before return.

What if my child has been exposed to someone with COVID-19 but has been fully vaccinated. Does he have to quarantine?

If the exposure to the COVID-19 positive individual took place at least 2 weeks after your child received his final COVID vaccination, and your child has no symptoms, he does not have to quarantine. However, he should (1) be tested 3-5 days after the exposure; (2) monitor closely for symptoms for 14 days following exposure; and (3) wear a mask in all indoor public places (something we currently recommend for all individuals regardless of vaccination or exposure status). If your child develops symptoms of illness within 14 days of the exposure, he should self-isolate until testing can be performed.

My child is in quarantine because of a COVID-19 exposure, does she need to be tested?

Yes, your child should be tested.  Many 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 will also need to quarantine and be tested. If you do not want to test your child, your child should quarantine for 14 days from last exposure, or 10 days if completely symptom-free.

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 5-7 days from exposure, as this is the average time it takes to develop symptoms. In the example above (last exposure on a Thursday), your child should be tested on the Tuesday or Wednesday following exposure. 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 all individuals who have been exposed to an individual with COVID-19, especially if your child is symptom-free.  The rapid tests are less reliable (i.e. sensitive) for symptom-free patients, resulting in more false negatives (i.e. says you don’t have COVID-19 when you actually do) and, less commonly, false positives (i.e. says you have COVID-19 when you don’t).

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 she is symptom-free, the rest of the family does not need to 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 her siblings for 10 days from onset of symptoms or date of positive test, whichever is earlier. The COVID-negative siblings’ quarantine would continue for 7-14 days (as per the first 2 FAQs above) beyond that last day of contagiousness. In short, it would be 17-24 days total. For example, child A develops symptoms on the first of the month and tests positive. She should isolate through the 11th of that month. The 11th is considered the last day that your other children were exposed. They should quarantine through the 25th of that month. As per FAQ#2, if the other children have no symptoms, they could end quarantine after the 18th with a negative test between the 16th & 18th, or after the 21st without testing.

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

No, but we recommend the following: (1) testing symptom-free, fully-vaccinated household contacts 3-5 days after exposure; (2) immediate self-isolation and repeat testing if you develop any symptoms of illness; (3) wearing a mask in all public indoor spaces for 14 days from the last day of sibling’s/child’s 10 day contagious period; (4) minimizing spread within the household with mask wearing, sitting 6 feet apart in common areas when possible, and maintaining good hand hygiene practices.

My child was exposed to COVID-19. Her test around day 5 from exposure was normal. She 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.