Changes to K-12 isolation and quarantine guidance related to COVID-19

Changes to K-12 isolation and quarantine guidance related to COVID-19
The state Department of Health and the Tacoma-Pierce County Health Department recently recommended changes to COVID-19 guidelines, including reducing the number of isolation and quarantine days.

Changes in isolation
Students who test positive for COVID-19 must isolate at home for at least five full days, regardless of their vaccination status. They can return when the following criteria are met:

  • 5 full days since symptom onset, or the positive test sample was collected; and
  • No symptoms are present, or symptoms are improving; and
  • No fever without the use of fever-reducing medications within 24 hours of returning.

Changes in quarantine
Students who are close contacts may or may not have to quarantine. Close contacts don’t have to quarantine if:

  • They are fully vaccinated and do not have symptoms. They are still encouraged to get tested 5-7 days after exposure. (For students 18 and older, full vaccination includes a booster dose.)
  • Or they tested positive for COVID-19 in the last 90 days.

Close contacts can shorten quarantine if they are not vaccinated but receive a lab-verified, negative COVID-19 test no sooner than five days after exposure.

Close contacts must complete the full, 10-day quarantine if they have not received the vaccine and booster and don’t have a lab-verified, negative COVID-19 test.

Preschoolers and children in childcare
Please note, students in preschool and childcare must quarantine 14 days after exposure, according to guidance from the Tacoma-Pierce County Health Department.

See the state’s updated guidelines here.

Recently quarantined or isolated?
If you received an isolation or quarantine notice from Tacoma Public Schools from Jan. 1-10, your child may be able to return to school sooner than originally indicated. See this chart for details: 

ISOLATION WINDOWS

 

QUARANTINE WINDOW

Date of COVID positive test

Return if symptoms improving and fever-free for 24 hours

 

Date of exposure

Earliest date eligible for testing

Return to activities with NEGATIVE test

Return to activities if
NO TESTING

1/1

1/7

 

1/1

1/6

1/7

1/12

1/2

1/8

 

1/2

1/7

1/8

1/13

1/3

1/9

 

1/3

1/8

1/9

1/14

1/4

1/10

 

1/4

1/9

1/10

1/15

1/5

1/11

 

1/5

1/10

1/11

1/16

1/6

1/12

 

1/6

1/11

1/12

1/17

1/7

1/13

 

1/7

1/12

1/13

1/18

1/8

1/14

 

1/8

1/13

1/14

1/19

1/9

1/15

 

1/9

1/14

1/15

1/20

1/10

1/16

 

1/10

1/15

1/16

1/21

1/11

1/17

 

1/11

1/16

1/17

1/22

Get tested
Anyone who’s been exposed to COVID-19 is encouraged to get tested 5 to 7 days after exposure. 

TPS offers a number of ways for students, staff and their families to get free COVID-19 testing. Results from these tests are lab-verified. (Test results must be lab-verified to be used when a student needs proof of a negative test result to return to school.)

  • Students can use “Let’s Get Checked,” a free, at-home test kit that students can bring home from school. Parents can request a test by contacting the school's office. After students bring the test home and complete it, parents register online and mail in the test sample with a free UPS shipping label. Results are provided by email or text within 24 to 72 hours. (Supplies are currently limited, but we are working with the health department to secure more.)

    This free, nasal swab test can be used by students who do or don’t have symptoms of COVID-19.
     
  • TPS students, staff and their immediate family members can take a rapid antigen test at a walk-in clinic at Madison Early Learning Center operated by Premier Medical Group. Testing is offered from 1-5 p.m. every day school is open. Lines are currently long at the testing site, so please be prepared to wait or possibly return the next day if the site is at capacity for the day. The line may close as early as 3:30 on crowded days.

    Testing site: Madison Early Learning Center, 3101 S. 43rd St, Tacoma

    Testing at this site is available to those TPS students, staff or their immediate family who have COVID-19 symptoms or are identified as a close contact of someone who tested positive for COVID-19

    Test results are available online within 15 to 20 minutes; participants will receive a text message with a link to the results.
     
  • Tacoma Public Schools partners with the Washington State Department of Health to offer a free, voluntary COVID-19 PCR test to students showing symptoms of the virus. This diagnostic test is available in all of our schools, with a parent’s permission. The brand of test is Curative. Results are available to parents via email in one to two days.


Communication update
As recommended by the Tacoma-Pierce County Health Department, TPS will continue to provide families notice when their child is identified as a close contact of someone at school with COVID-19. However, we will stop the practice of notifying families whose children were in the same general area of a COVID-positive person but were not a close contact; in those cases, no action or precautions are needed.