Does Your Child Need A Covid Test? FAQs About School Exposure

Did you just get a call or email from your child's school about recent Covid exposure? If you're not sure what you should do next, take a look at the questions parents have about Covid exposure, getting a Covid test, and more.

What Does Covid Exposure Really Mean?

Vaccines, treatments, and a better understanding of the Covid-19 virus have led to a decrease in restrictive measures. This means your child's days of cyber school are long gone. Even though these first few weeks or months of in-person classes were dotted with periodic shutdowns and daily contact tracing, it's not as likely that your child's school will close when a few children test positive for Covid-19. Instead, it's more likely that the school will only notify the parents of students who were direct contacts.

The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) defines close contact as anyone who is within six feet of your child for 15 minutes or more (over a 24-hour period). In the school setting, this could include other students, teachers, school staff members, or support personnel. 

What Should You Do If Your Child Doesn't Have Symptoms?

If your child was exposed to Covid and doesn't have symptoms, you will need to follow their school's protocol for masking. Asymptomatic children (those without noticeable symptoms) should wait until five days after exposure to close contact before they test for Covid-19. Even though it's tempting to test for Covid as soon as possible, this could result in a false negative. 

What Should You Do If Your Child Has Symptoms?

Does your child have a stuffy or runny nose, sore throat, cough, headache, GI issues, fever, or body/muscle aches? While these are symptoms of the common cold or the flu, they are also signs of a Covid infection. 

A Covid-19 test is the only way to know if your child has this virus or something else. An exposure combined with symptoms makes it likely that your child has Covid, but it is not guaranteed. It's possible that your child caught another respiratory virus at school. Follow your school's sick policy, make sure your child wears a well-fitting mask when they go outside of the home, schedule a test for Covid-19, and contact the pediatrician. These steps can help to reduce the spread of disease at school and everywhere else your child goes.

For more info about Covid tests, contact a local doctor.