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MCPS Process Updates: COVID-19 & Other Common Respiratory Viruses

As of April 15, 2024, MCPS is updating procedures for COVID-19 and other common respiratory viruses to align with the latest guidance from the Centers for Disease Control & Prevention and endorsed by the Maryland Department of Health.

CDC’s Respiratory Virus Guidance

Immunizations Can Prevent Serious Illness

  • Seasonal vaccines are available for COVID-19 and influenza that help prevent serious illness and hospitalization
  • MCPS strongly recommends staying up to date on vaccines for common respiratory viruses
  • Immunization against RSV is available for certain individuals with higher risk of health complications from RSV

If you become sick with COVID-19 or another respiratory virus

  • Stay home to recover until you have been fever free and symptoms are improving, for at least 24 hours
  • When returning to work or school after being out for a respiratory infection, the CDC recommends additional precautions for 5 days
  • Staff and students who test positive for COVID-19 or influenza should report the specific reason for their illness-related absence to their school

Testing for Respiratory Viruses

  • Early testing allows for early treatment
  • Early medical evaluation and treatment is most important for people at risk for complications from respiratory illness
  • Medications for flu and COVID-19 infection work best to control symptoms and prevent complications when started as early as possible

Masks for Health Protection

  • Masks are available at school for staff, student or visitor use
  • Individuals can choose to wear a medical mask for health protection (their own or for a close contact)
  • School leaders may encourage masking when respiratory illnesses are spreading quickly in their school
  • Individuals unable to safely mask will not be asked to do so
  • Students asked to mask as a preventive measures will not be excluded from school for choosing not to wear a mask

COVID-19 Outbreaks in Schools

  • School-based outbreaks of certain infectious diseases are monitored by the health department
  • If 3 or more cases of COVID-19 occur in a high-risk classroom within 7 days, a case investigation determines if there is an outbreak
  • Families will be notified if their student has been exposed in a probable classroom outbreak and any recommended measures


What to do if a student or staff member:

  • …has COVID-19 Symptoms?

    Students and staff with symptoms of COVID-19 should stay home and take a test . If the test is negative, you may return to school.

    For people with symptoms, a PCR test or a second rapid test after 48 hours is recommended to confirm the negative result. Masks are strongly recommended for anyone with active respiratory symptoms.

  • …tests positive for COVID-19?

    Students and staff who test positive, regardless of vaccination status, must notify their school, and must stay home for at least 5 days after the onset of symptoms. If no symptoms are present, you must still stay home for at least 5 days after the day of the positive test result. You may return to school starting on day 6 if symptoms are improving and no fever is present for at least 24 hours; however; masks must be worn on days 6-10.

  • …is exposed to COVID-19 by a close contact?

    Staff and students who have no symptoms but have been in close contact with someone with COVID-19, (eg. household member), may stay in school if no symptoms are present, regardless of vaccination status. The CDC recommends wearing a face covering for 10 days after exposure. You should take a COVID-19 test on day 6, and if you develop any symptoms.

  • …is exposed to COVID-19 because of an outbreak in a classroom or activity?

    MCPS families will be informed of an outbreak in their student’s classroom or activity. Students may stay in school if no symptoms are present. Additional guidance will be provided based on the situation. Masks may be required for up to 10 days to help reduce further transmission.


Masking is not mandatory in most situations for staff or students. The exceptions are: 1) students and staff diagnosed with COVID-19 who are returning to school, on days 6-10; and 2) students and staff in a classroom or activity with an outbreak (masking may be required temporarily, for up to 10 days, to prevent further transmission in the classroom). School leaders may strongly recommend masking if there is a high rate of COVID-19 or other respiratory illnesses in a school to prevent further spread.


At-home Covid-19 test kits are provided for students and staff by MCPS schools in certain situations depending on community risk. These include local outbreaks, or following holiday travel during longer school breaks, depending on current community risk. Students evaluated for COVID-19 symptoms in the school health room may receive a rapid test kit for use at home.