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Quarantine and Isolation Requirements for COVID Cases

Those who are identified as close contacts at school or at home may continue to go to school as long as they remain asymptomatic.

  • Test to stay testing will be provided upon request and for k-8 pools that test positive. 
  • Masking is required for those with a known exposure for 10 days after exposure.
    • Masking is never required while the individual is eating, drinking, sleeping, or outside.

Individuals who test positive must isolate for at least 5 days.

  • To count days of isolation, Day 0 is day of the positive test.
  • If they are asymptomatic or symptoms are resolving and they have been fever free for 24 hours, they may return to programming  after Day 5, provided:
  • Masking is required through Day 10.  
    • Masking is never required while the individual is eating, drinking, sleeping, or outside.
  • If the child is unable to mask, they must have a negative test on Day 5 or later in order to return to programming prior to day 11.

Symptomatic students who test negative in the health suite may stay in school, masked.

  • The school Health Suite staff will determine if your child is well enough to remain in school or must be sent home. As long as they test negative for COVID, they will not have to quarantine and can return to school as soon as they are well enough to attend.

FAQs about COVID Quarantine and Isolation

Browse below to find more detail about changes to quarantine requirements for staff and students who have COVID and unvaccinated contacts who may be infected. Can’t find the answer to your specific question? Email healthandsafety@bcps.k12.md.us.

Is it safe for City Schools to reduce the number of days for isolation or quarantine?

Yes. The Maryland Department of Health recently shared new guidance on modified quarantine policies for schools. City Schools takes many steps that minimize the spread of infection and align with the state’s updated guidance. This includes widespread use of rapid antigen tests and PCR tests, along with masking, air filtration, vaccine requirements for staff, and vaccine availability for students age 6 months and up.

Reducing the length of isolation and quarantine means students and staff can miss fewer days of school and focus on teaching and learning.

What’s the difference between isolation and quarantine?

Isolation separates a person with a contagious disease from people who are not sick. This means that anyone who tests positive for COVID should have no contact with other people for at least five days, including members of their own household. (Parents/guardians of children who are too young to be left alone and unsupervised for long periods should take reasonable steps to minimize contact—for example, by limiting interaction to one adult family member, wearing masks at home, and opening windows when feasible.) 

Quarantine separates people exposed to a contagious disease to see if they become sick. This is no longer required for City Schools students and staff. If you or your child has been exposed to COVID, simply ask for “test to stay” testing from your school. 

Who lets me know if my child needs to isolate or quarantine and for how long?

Your school will notify you if your child tests positive. If your middle, middle/high, or high school student tests positive, you can also check for your student’s test results online by following these directions. City Schools' contact-tracing team will also contact you to let you know when your child can return to school.

City Schools is no longer doing in-school contact tracing. Your school will send out notification letters alerting you to positive cases at your school. Based on the information they provide, if you believe your child has been exposed to COVID you may request “test to stay” testing, and your school will either rapid test your child or provide you with at-home tests.

If a student or staff member tests positive and has symptoms, do they have to isolate for longer than five days?

Not necessarily. A person who tests positive for COVID can return to school on Day 6 if they have no symptoms or if symptoms are improving. According to the Baltimore City Department of Health, this means that the person

  • Is fever free for 24 hours without use of fever-reducing medications 
  • Has no new acute cough, persistent cough, or worsening cough (chronic cough from baseline conditions should be distinguished from any new acute cough and is not a reason to be excluded from returning to school)
  • Has minimal or completely resolved sore throat 
  • Had no vomiting or diarrhea in the preceding 24 hours
  • Has no or minimal congestion, runny nose, or other symptoms that interfere with mask-wearing

If the COVID-positive person has any of these symptoms and they are not getting better on Day 5 of isolation, they should remain home until 24 hours after they begin to improve.

(Note that if symptoms included loss of taste or smell, this may be ongoing but is not a reason to be excluded from returning to school.)

What if a student or staff member is a close contact of someone outside of school who has COVID?

The student or staff member may remain in school but must mask for 10 days. Please request “test to stay” testing from your school to ensure that you child is negative and monitor their symptoms closely for 10 days.

Are students marked absent when they are home in isolation?

If students have symptoms and test positive for COVID, they are marked with an excused absence during the isolation period and any additional days they need to recover. 


All other students should be in school and participating in regular screening testing and test to stay, if needed! Participating in City Schools testing program means that students can avoid missing school or being marked with unexcused absences. Parents/guardians can consent to testing by completing and returning the form below.

Download the consent form to your school: English | Spanish

My child has a medical condition and our doctor says quarantine has to be longer. Will my child be marked absent if they miss more than five days of school?

Please send a note from your doctor to your school if they are unable to return after 5 days of isolation. Your child will be marked with an excused absence for the days they miss due to COVID. 

Related pages

Visit our health and safety page

Health and Safety Procedures

COVID-19 rules for students and staff

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COVID Testing Program

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Winter Return to Learning

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