Component 4: Diagnostic Positives: Quarantine/Isolation and Public Health Engagement

When a positive case is identified, schools and childcare sites will need to quarantine close contacts according to current public health guidelines. The infected person will also need to isolate.

Supporting people to quarantine and isolate safely and with minimal social and economic disruption is important both for their individual health, and to ensure ongoing participation in school-wide diagnostic testing. The positive case will be reported to health authorities by the testing lab. The site should also report the positive to authorities and confer with them about the appropriate steps to take.

How does it work?

Management of diagnostic positives should be handled according to guidelines from local health authorities and any organizational practices. Work with your lab to ensure you understand who is responsible for notifying the positive individual (i.e., lab personnel, the ordering physician, or a designated COVID lead) and how this information will be provided to the site leadership in a way that is both rapid and HIPAA compliant to ensure timely isolation of the positive person and quarantining of the affected classroom (as necessary). 

The person who tests positive and close contacts who must quarantine should be supported to understand their situation and obtain support they need. “Support” should be interpreted broadly. The individual(s) should receive clear guidance on symptom monitoring and when to seek medical support. Household members should receive advice on how to isolate away from the infected person if at all possible and what risk mitigation measures to put in place if this is not possible.

We strongly recommend providing personal protective equipment kits (N95s or KN95s, gloves, facemasks, hand sanitizer) if either the family or school personnel do not feel that a household will be able to access these themselves. Since isolation/quarantine will affect the full household as close contacts, we also strongly recommend providing information on any income replacement, rental assistance, housing isolation support, or other resources that are available from local health officials or foundations. This information should of course be in the preferred home language.


  • Documented procedures in case of positive, with clear decision rules and roles
  • Quarantine support materials and information


  • None


  • No additional costs, as every entity operating during the pandemic needs to have these processes and procedures in place.

Communication resources

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