When Someone Gets Sick

Returning to School After Testing Positive

SFUSD continues to work with the SF Department of Public Health to implement health and safety protocols to mitigate the spread of COVID-19 in schools. Based on updated public health guidance on December 31, 2021:

Students and staff who have tested positive for COVID-19 can return after 5 days of isolation if:

  • They no longer have a fever, AND
  • Their symptoms are getting better, AND
  • They have a negative test collected on or after day 5.

Both PCR/NAAT/molecular and antigen tests are acceptable.


When Someone Gets Sick

Screen for symptoms and stay home if you're sick

It takes all of us to maintain safe and healthy schools. This means all school staff and students must:

  • Self-screen for COVID-19 before coming to school every day
  • Stay home when sick
  • Wash or sanitize hands frequently

Masks are no longer required, but are strongly recommended.  

Contact your school immediately, even on a non-school day if: 

Scenario Action Communication

Student/Staff exhibits COVID-19 symptoms or answers yes to a symptom screening question.

Symptoms include:

  • Fever greater than 100.4° F, chills, cough
  • Sore throat
  • Shortness of breath
  • Headache
  • New loss of smell or taste
  • Nausea/vomiting
  • Diarrhea
  • Body aches
  • Fatigue




  • Staff member will stay home and quarantine. 
  • Get a COVID-19 test.
  • Symptomatic Memo is sent with instructions on next steps and when you are allowed to return to school
  • No broad communication is needed. 

Student/Staff tests positive for COVID-19. 

  • Keep your student at home.
  • If already at school, send home the person who tested positive and begin home isolation. 
  • Areas where student and/or staff member spent significant time will be closed and then cleaned and disinfected. 
  • Group Tracing Approach:  All other students and staff can remain at school, as long as they do not have symptoms.  Highly recommend COVID testing on day 3-5 
  • Positive Memo is sent with instructions and next steps.
  • The school community will receive a Group Tracing Memo which outlines health and safety protocols associated with recommended testing.

Student/Staff reports being a close contact of someone who has recently tested positive for COVID-19. 

Getting a COVID-19 test 3-5 days after exposure is recommended regardless of vaccination status.

If they do not have COVID-19 symptoms:

  • Can return to school
  • Strongly recommended that they continue to wear a well-fitting mask 

If they have symptoms:

  • Close Contact Memo is sent with instructions and next steps.
  • Close Contact Memo will be sent to anyone who reports being a close contact and not vaccinated.
  • No broad communication needed. 
As of 2/8/22, Cluster of cases now only pertain to PreK classrooms 
  • Are there 5 or more cases in the same school location/classroom in a 14 day period?  
  • Were all the cases on campus at the time when the positive cases was contagious (aka exposure dates)? 
  • Were NONE of the cases from the same household?  

If the answer is YES to all the above questions - notify the COVID Central Liaison via the Student Family Resource Link so SFDPH can be consulted

  • Communication will be based on COVID Central Liaison and SFDPH recommendations

Helpful Definitions


When the person who is infected can give the virus to others.

A person with COVID-19 is considered contagious 2 days before their symptoms start until at least 10 days later, fever is gone 24 hours, and symptoms have improved.

If a person with COVID-19 has no symptoms, they are considered contagious 2 days before their positive test until 10 days after the positive test.

If a person who was initially asymptomatic develops symptoms after testing positive, the contagious period should be considered as two days before the test date and is extended to ten days after the onset of symptoms.

Close contact

Anyone who stayed within 6 feet of someone with COVID-19 for a total of 15 minutes over the course of a day. 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 24 hours. People are not considered close contacts simply because they were in the same group or cohort.
Buses will be considered an "outdoor" environment when identifying close contacts if all COVID-19 safety protocols, including masking and open windows, are in place.


Quarantine is used to keep people who have been exposed to COVID-19 away from others while they may be contagious. After someone has been exposed to COVID-19, they must stay home and away from other people for a recommended period after their last exposure, until they meet the criteria to return from quarantine. Close contacts who are fully vaccinated for COVID-19 or had COVID-19 within the previous 3 months, do not have to quarantine after close contact with someone with COVID-19, as long as they are asymptomatic.


Isolation is used to keep people who are infected away from others while they are contagious. This is usually 5-10 days after COVID-19 symptoms appeared or after they test positive.

Monitoring for Possible Clusters

SFUSD will monitor for an increase in confirmed cases of COVID-19. School sites and central offices continue to submit positive cases into Smartsheets.  If an increase is detected, the district will alert the SF Department of Public Health to consult on whether further action beyond the regular quarantine protocols must be taken to prevent the spread of COVID-19.

As of 2/8/22, "cluster" only applies to PreK, see guidance below:  

A "cluster" now only pertains to PreK classrooms and is defined as 5 or more COVID-19 cases in a 14-day period. A cluster of positive cases in the PreK classroom would be identified if all three criteria are met:  

  • 5 more more cases in the same school location/classroom in a 14 day period 
  • All cases were on campus at the time when the positive case was contagious 
  • None of the cases are from the same household 

If a cluster is suspected, school sites will connect with SFUSD Covid Central Liaisons.  

COVID-19 Testing Dashboard

View the COVID-19 testing dashboard for testing data, including how many tests have been completed, the number of positive tests, and the rate of positive tests. 

This page was last updated on May 27, 2022