Quarantine and Contact Tracing

Symptomatic student with a negative rapid test: no quarantine of close contacts, but exceptions based on follow-up PCR test

If a student with COVID-19 symptoms tests negative on the rapid test, it is recommended that the student follow up with a PCR test. 

  • While awaiting the results of the PCR test, close contacts do not need to quarantine.

  • If the PCR test is negative, close contacts do not need to quarantine. 

  • If the PCR test is positive, unvaccinated close contacts will need to quarantine. 

If a parent does not consent to the rapid test for their child, or follow-up PCR test, unvaccinated close contacts of the child will not be required to quarantine unless the symptomatic child has had a known exposure to COVID-19 or if the level of exposure cannot be reliably confirmed. DHHS has indicated that based on the rapid tests to date they “expect that this circumstance will not arise often.”    

Symptomatic student with a positive rapid test: unvaccinated close contacts must quarantine for 10 days

If a student with COVID-19 symptoms tests positive on the rapid test, unvaccinated students who were in close contact with the symptomatic student will be required to quarantine for 10 days. Unvaccinated students who have been identified as close contacts to a confirmed COVID-19 case must complete the full 10-day quarantine and may not test out and return prior to completing the full 10 days. 

COVID-19 Rapid Testing and Quarantine Guidelines Process Map (Oct. 1, 2021)

Contact Tracing

MCPS follows the recommendations and guidance of DHHS and School Health Services regarding the need to isolate and quarantine students due to a positive COVID test or exposure.

Following CDC guidelines, MCPS staff work with classroom and school staff to gather information, including seating charts, classroom activities, lunch and recess contacts, and identifies close contacts who need to quarantine.

A letter is sent to all families of students who are required to quarantine and provides information on monitoring for symptoms, when to seek medical care, who to contact if they test positive or develop symptoms during quarantine, the length of quarantine and return date, free testing and vaccination sites in the county, and information regarding further contact by the Department of Health.

See the letter templates:

MCPS is in the process of hiring 10 additional contact tracers to assist and support schools with identifying close contacts.