The Omicron variant of COVID-19 is circulating in our community. Many parents are wondering what to do if their child is exposed to COVID through a close contact, develops symptoms of COVID, or tests positive for COVID. The following information provides answers to some of the most frequently asked questions regarding COVID-19. Please be aware that the following information is based on CDC guidelines and your child’s school or daycare may have a different isolation and quarantine policy in place to best protect their community. Reach out to your child’s school for specific information on isolation and quarantine guidelines.
A close contact is defined as someone who was less than 6 feet away from a person with COVID for a total of 15 minutes or more over a 24-hour period. For example, if your child was within 6 feet of the infected individual for three, 5-minute periods (totaling 15 minutes) over the course of a day, they are considered a close contact and exposed to COVID.
The Washington State Department of Health has created an Isolation and Quarantine Calculator to help you determine when an isolation or quarantine period can end. Additionally, every school and daycare will have individual guidelines in place that will determine when your child is eligible to return to the classroom.
Isolation starts (day 0) on the first day of symptoms; if asymptomatic, then the day of the positive test.
If your child develops any symptoms of COVID, they should be tested as soon as possible. If your child tests positive, they should isolate for a minimum of 5 days. During this time, anyone sick or infected should stay separate from others in the home as much as possible, and masks should be worn by both the caregiver and the sick individual, if age 2 and older.
If the infected individual’s symptoms are improving after five days, they can leave the house, if necessary, wearing a well-fitting mask. The individual should continue wearing a well-fitting mask around others and avoid public places for an additional 5 days. Some schools and daycares may allow children to return between 5-10 days after testing positive if they receive a negative result from a rapid antigen test indicating they are no longer contagious. If symptoms have not improved after 5 days or if a fever is present, the infected individual should continue to isolate until all symptoms, including fever, have resolved.
Reminder: If you or your child is experiencing an increase in symptoms, please call your doctor. If a person with symptoms is struggling to breathe, please call 911.
We understand that the idea of quarantine and isolation is difficult when you have children in your home. If anyone in your household tests positive, try to designate a “sick area” for the infected individual and keep children or high-risk individuals away from the infected person as much as possible.
The caretaker of the infected individual should wear a mask whenever they are near, and the infected individual should also wear a mask around their caregiver if they are age 2 and older. Other tips to prevent the spread of illness include practicing good hand hygiene, using a separate bathroom (if available), avoiding sharing personal household items, and sanitizing shared surfaces. Public Health of Seattle & King County offers helpful tips for managing COVID-19 symptoms and caring for those with COVID-19 at home.
Your child can, and should, get vaccinated against COVID, even if they’ve already had COVID. Early research suggests that natural immunity from mild COVID infection may not be very strong or last very long. Additionally, it is not known how long after being infected with COVID-19 you may be able to get it again, and reinfection has occurred in the community. Receiving the vaccine will better protect you from contracting the virus again. Here is some information on special situations that may impact the timing of receiving a COVID vaccine:
It is easy to get confused about the different types of COVID tests: NAAT, PCR, and Rapid Antigen. See below for an overview of which test is best for your child’s situation.
Please be aware that your child’s individual school or daycare may have specific guidelines that dictate when your child can return to their classroom.
When should it be used?
When should it be used?
Rapid Antigen Test:
When should it be used?
If your child is suspected of having COVID-19, they will receive an NAAT or a PCR test at our Bellevue clinic. NAAT/PCR tests answer if a patient has the virus that causes COVID-19 – yes or no. The results we receive do not provide us with any additional information regarding the type of variant your child may have.
Each week, Washington State Department of Health receives COVID test samples submitted to them from around the state. The DOH performs genetic sequencing tests on these samples to see which variants are circulating in our community. Visit the Washington State Department of Health to find out which variants are circulating in our community currently.