Guidelines for Quarantine After Exposure in K-12 Classroom Settings

  • While great strides have been made in controlling the spread of COVID-19, the virus remains a threat, and the ongoing health and safety of K-12 students, staff, and volunteers remains paramount. Ohio’s goal is to keep K-12 students in school, in person five days a week. Students benefit cognitively, emotionally, and developmentally from in-person learning.

    This guidance can help guide quarantine decisions after a student or adult contact is exposed to someone with COVID-19 in the classroom setting.

    Click HERE to see the guidelines, or read below.

    The changes from ODH include two options:

    Mask to Stay - applies to participation in the classroom following a COVID-19 exposure in a school setting or another school-related environment.

    Test to Play - applies to participation in extracurricular activities following a COVID-19 exposure in a school setting or school-related environment.

    Additionally, CPH emphasizes the following:

    • Universal masking and other public health mitigation strategies -- social distancing, surface cleaning, ventilation, etc. -- should be maintained.
    • Schools should continue to report all school-related cases (within 24 hours) to CPH.
    • This new option does not apply to contacts that occur outside the school setting. Contacts exposed outside of the school setting or school-related activities should continue to quarantine if unvaccinated.
    • The guidelines below only apply to direct contacts in a school environment – those individuals who are identified as being directly exposed to COVID-19 by a positive case in a classroom or school-related activity.

    Updated Ohio Department of Health Guidelines:

    Mask to Stay

    Direct contacts, regardless of vaccination or masking status, may remain in the classroom environment if they do the following:

    • Wear a mask for 14 days after their last date of exposure. (Please note: CCS will continue to require all students and staff to wear masks inside all indoor facilities, including past this 14-day period identified by ODH.)
    • Self-monitor, or parent-monitor, for symptoms of COVID-19.
    • Isolate and get tested if they start to experience symptoms associated with COVID-19 (regardless of level of severity).
    • Direct contacts for COVID-19 are those individuals who are identified as being directly exposed to an individual(s) with a confirmed positive case of COVID-19.

    Parents and students are responsible for symptom monitoring; however, if nurses/school staff see a child exhibiting symptoms they should act accordingly.

    Test to Play

    Asymptomatic contacts may continue to participate in extracurricular activities if they do the following:

    • Wear a mask when able. (This includes: transportation; locker rooms; sitting/standing on the sidelines; and anytime the mask will not interfere with breathing, the activity, or create a safety hazard.)
    • Test on initial notification of exposure to COVID-19.
    • Test again on days 5-7. If they are negative at this time, they will test out of quarantine.
    • Please Note: The tests referenced above are SARS-CoV-2 viral (PCR or antigen) tests. They should be proctored/observed by someone and cannot be an over-the-counter, at-home test that was self-administered without a proctor.

    For additional information, please visit:

    The Ohio Department of Health (ODH) recommends in its COVID-19 Health and Prevention Guidance for Ohio K-12 Schools following layered prevention strategies that were remarkably effective at controlling COVID-19 during the 2020-21 school year. These include strongly recommending vaccination for those who are eligible; strongly recommending use of face masks in K-12 settings, particularly for those who are not fully vaccinated; maximizing distance between people; prompt identification and providing appropriate care for people exhibiting symptoms of COVID-19; practicing good hygiene; and routine environmental cleaning and disinfection.  Columbus City Schools continues to follow all of these layered prevention strategies. 

    The Ohio Department of Health (ODH) and Columbus Public Health (CPH) have guidance for K-12 schools for students exhibiting symptoms that could be due to COVID-19 in an effort to reduce the transmission of COVID-19:

      • Students who develop symptoms of COVID-19 at school or home will be required to show a negative COVID test or isolate for a five-day period before returning to school and extracurricular activities. Symptomatic students must remain in isolation until test results are confirmed.

    School-based and a limited number of at-home rapid tests may be available for students who develop symptoms while at school. Families can also opt for testing completed by a medical provider. A negative COVID-19 test can allow students to return to school if they have improving symptoms and are fever free for 24 hours. Only the student in the home with symptoms needs to complete a test.

    For additional information, visit

    For answers to your COVID-19 questions, call 1-833-4-ASK-ODH (1-833-427-5634).

    Your mental health is just as important as your physical health. If you or a loved one are experiencing anxiety related to the coronavirus pandemic, help is available 24 hours a day, seven days a week. Call the COVID-19 CareLine at 1-800-720-9616.

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