When Someone Gets Sick FAQs

Testing Positive, or When Someone Gets Sick

Last updated Oct. 12, 2021

If a student tests positive for COVID-19, what is the protocol for the school?

The student or staff who reports testing positive for COVID-19 must isolate at home for at least 10 days.  Any unvaccinated student or staff who is identified as a close contact must quarantine at home for at least 10 days.

What happens if a student tests positive for COVID-19?

Students who test positive will be asked to immediately isolate at home for at least 10 days. If a student who isolates after testing positive is able to, they may do school-related work remotely during the isolation period. In addition, the student will receive follow up from SFUSD’s contact tracers to identify any close contacts at school. Students who test positive are able to return to school when the criteria to return from isolation is met.

Will students be receiving excused absences if they are missing school because they are symptomatic, tested positive for COVID-19, or are quarantined?

Yes, students will receive excused absences if they are missing school due to COVID-19 symptoms, if they have tested positive, or if they are quarantining as close contacts. Families should conduct daily health screening with their children everyday before they come to school and students should stay home if they are sick to stop the spread of COVID-19. 

Quarantine Protocols

Last updated Nov. 29, 2021

When can schools accept a negative COVID‑19 test done at home?

SFUSD is not currently accepting home tests as proof of negative COVID status. We currently do not know how well home tests can detect COVID-19 when the test is performed on a child by the child’s caregiver or by an individual on themselves. SFDPH recommends very limited circumstances for home testing. At this time, SFDPH does not recommend accepting home tests to end quarantine and home tests should not be used as part of a routine screening program for unvaccinated individuals. Regardless of the test result, if symptoms include fever, a child or staff person must stay out of school until they are fever free for at least 24 hours without the use of medications for fever.

What are SFUSD's quarantine protocols and how were they developed?

SFUSD is working closely with SF Department of Public Health (SFDPH) to mitigate the spread of COVID-19 in schools. SFUSD's health and safety protocols were developed based on local and state public health guidance, and medical experts are advising SFUSD on the implementation.  At this time SFUSD is following the standard 10-day quarantine which can be shortened to 7 days if the student is asymptomatic and tests negative on day 5.

Do all close contacts have to quarantine? When would someone need to quarantine?

Not all close contacts have to quarantine. An exposed person must meet all the following requirements before they have to quarantine:

  • The exposed person is unvaccinated
  • Exposure occurred indoors or, if outdoors, then it occurred during an unmasked stationary activity (eating, singing, etc.) or a high-contact activity.
  • The exposed person was within 6 ft of the positive case for 15 cumulative minutes or more in a 24-hour period
  • Exposure occurred during the infectious period (two days before a positive test or onset of symptoms).

How does my child's vaccination status affect whether they need to quarantine?

People who are fully vaccinated for COVID-19 or have had COVID-19 in the last 3 months do not have to quarantine after close contact as long as they do not have symptoms.

In addition, even if a child is unvaccinated, they only need to quarantine for outdoor exposures at schools if close contacts happened:

  • During high-contact sports or dance
  • Student and infected person were unmasked and stationary

If you are experiencing COVID-19 symptoms, get tested immediately.

What is the difference between quarantine and isolation?

SFUSD is following SF Department of Public Health definitions of quarantine and isolation. To review the definitions and learn about quarantine policies, visit the When Someone Gets Sick page. You can also watch this video that explains SFUSD quarantine policies and the instruction provided if your child has an excused absence as a result of COVID-19.

What instruction will my child receive when they are missing school due to COVID-19 quarantine or isolation?

When a student is put on quarantine, they should reach out to their school and request independent study. Independent study is a contract between home and school that aims to make sure learning continues during the time away. During quarantine, students are provided with asynchronous (independent learning) activities from their classroom teachers. This includes both digital and non digital assignments. 

Why isn't SFUSD implementing modified quarantine at this time?

To minimize the risk of having even more students exposed to COVID, we are not implementing modified quarantine at this time. Modified quarantine is safest when implemented with specific assurances in place.

We do not have the resources to create the operational system to 1) identify with confidence the students who in the last 48 hours of the exposure date that "both the student and the infected person were wearing face masks consistently and correctly during the close contact;" 2) track the students on modified quarantine, ensure that they are testing twice weekly and that the results are reported to SFPH or have the resources to provide testing at all 119 schools sites on a twice weekly basis to ensure that all students have access to testing.

For more information about our quarantine practices, watch this video and visit the When Someone Gets Sick page.

Close Contacts

Last updated Oct. 12, 2021

Who is considered to be a close contact?

Based on SFDPH guidelines for schools, people should be considered close contacts when the program is reasonably sure that they spent at least 15 minutes within 6 feet of the infected person during the course of a day. People are not considered close contacts simply because they were in the same group or cohort. If a program cannot determine if someone is a closed contact, they should not be considered as a close contact.

I got notified that my child(ren) is a close contact. What should I do?

Students and staff who are identified as close contacts will be sent home (or if not at school, to stay home). If your child is not vaccinated, please keep your student at home and quarantine. If your child is vaccinated, there is no need to quarantine if they are asymptomatic. If your child is symptomatic, they should stay home and get tested. SFUSD is providing free COVID-19 testing, and you may also test through your medical provider. Review quarantine protocols on the When Someone Gets Sick page. If your child has been asked to quarantine, talk to your school about independent study for your child during their quarantine.