COVID-19 vaccine

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Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19)

Schools and early childhood education guidance

The following is intended as a plain-language summary of rules during the COVID-19 emergency and does not replace the need to follow all applicable federal, state, and local laws and regulations.

As the COVID-19 pandemic in Philadelphia evolves, there may be additional changes to the guidance, so please connect to the COVID-19 texts (text COVIDPHL to 888-777) to have the most up-to-date information.

Note: For information about childcare and early childhood education settings, please see the section at the bottom of this page.


This content was last updated on August 11, 2021.

A safe return to school in the fall is essential for Philadelphia children to continue to learn and thrive. Keeping students and staff safe during COVID-19 is of the utmost priority. Schools should provide in-person instruction for all ages.

Vaccination is the number one way to protect students and staff and reduce interruptions in learning. Anyone who is eligible should be vaccinated. There are many opportunities for vaccination in Philadelphia.

The following guidelines will help schools decrease the risk of COVID-19 for students and staff. This guidance also applies to programs that provide childcare for school-aged children after school or during the day. The guidance provided are a set of baseline or minimum recommendations based on guidelines from the Philadelphia Department of Public Health (PDPH), the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), and the Pennsylvania Department of Education.

The detailed guidance is categorized by the following key practices:

  • Enforcing universal and correct use of face masks for all staff and students > 2yrs of age when indoors except in specific situations outlined below.
  • Physical distancing where possible.
  • Hand cleaning and respiratory etiquette.
  • Cleaning and maintaining healthy facilities.
  • Contact tracing in combination with isolation and quarantine, in collaboration with the Health Department.

Enforcing universal and correct use of face masks


Face masks help to prevent the transmission of COVID-19.
Learn more about why, when, and how to wear a mask (PDF).


  • Require all staff to wear face masks that completely cover nose and mouth regardless of vaccination status whenever indoors with the exception of while eating or drinking and in special situations discussed below.
  • If using a disposable face mask, staff and students should use a new face mask each day. If wearing a cloth face mask, it should be laundered every day.
  • Wearing face masks may be more challenging for younger students and enforcement of this policy should be developmentally appropriate. For students unable to tolerate a face mask, a face shield is an alternative. Asthma is not a contraindication to wearing a face mask.
  • Face masks should not be placed on:
    • Anyone who has trouble breathing or is unconscious.
    • Anyone who is incapacitated or otherwise unable to remove the cloth face mask without assistance.
  • For teachers and staff who work with multiple students who cannot wear face masks, face shields may be used in addition to face masks, and eye protection (goggles) may be considered.
  • Students may remove their face masks during mealtimes, and when outdoors and greater than 6 feet apart from other students. “Mask Breaks” should be brief (less than 15 minutes).
  • Students should be encouraged to make sure their face masks cover their nose and mouth at all times.
  • Students should be encouraged to put on a clean face mask each day (either launder previously used face mask or replace disposable face mask).
  • Schools should have supply of masks to give to students who arrive to school without a mask or if a student’s or teacher’s mask becomes damaged during the school day.
  • School bus drivers and volunteer staff should wear face masks at all times in the school building and when interacting with school staff and students. (See transportation guidance below.)
  • Visitors must remain masked at all times.
  • Students and staff who have been fully vaccinated may opt out of mask wearing during athletic training and competition and performing arts. Unvaccinated students must continue to mask during all sports and performing arts unless playing a woodwind or brass instrument. (See Extracurricular Activities for more details.)
  • A school may allow a classroom or team to be unmasked if the teacher(s) and coach(es) and at least 95% of all students are fully vaccinated.

Physical distancing

For students:

  • In order to reduce the risk of transmission, schools should both promote physical distancing as well as employ strategies that reduce the number of people in close contact with one another. Physical distance of 3 feet is recommended for all settings.
  • Schools that cannot maintain 3-foot distancing between students should still plan for full, in-person education and encourage other mitigation measures such as masking and ventilation.
  • If conducting on-site daily health screen (see below), have students wait 3 feet apart while waiting to complete the screen.
  • Avoid large assemblies or gatherings and other indoor activities without assigned seating. If avoiding large gatherings is not feasible, having students sit with their classroom group/cohort in assigned seating will assist in identifying close contacts.
  • Consider eliminating 3-foot distancing if children are kept in strict cohorts when indoors.
  • Maintain at least 3-feet distance between students during mealtimes. Possible strategies include:
    • Eating at desks in their classroom, maintaining 3-feet of distance
    • Consider alternate spaces for meals, such as outdoor areas or large indoor rooms, if safe food handling and clean-up practices can be observed.
    • Stagger the use of the cafeteria and other mealtime spaces so that all students can maintain distance from the others and that class cohorts eat together to avoid mixing of classes. If a cafeteria must be used, use seat markers to designate where students should sit. To help facilitate contact tracing in the event a positive case is identified, use seating charts with assigned seats. Minimize the number of students per table.

For staff:

  • Remind staff that they should limit the amount of time that they are not wearing a face mask and that they should continue to wear their face masks while in the break room when not actively eating.
  • Stagger break and lunch hours for staff to minimize interactions.
  • Space chairs in break rooms to maintain > 3 feet distance.
  • Post signs alerting employees to maintain distance and avoid eating near or across from each other.
  • Limit the number of non-essential personnel visiting school buildings. This does NOT pertain to personnel who provide essential in-school services to students that would not otherwise be accessible to them. Use video streaming or outdoor activities to provide enrichment experiences from individuals who are not members of the school community. Maintain electronic records of all visitors’ contact information to help facilitate contact tracing in the event a case is identified.

School transportation guidance (buses, vans, taxis, etc.)

  • Drivers, attendants, and students must wear masks regardless of vaccination status.

Whenever possible, the following mitigation strategies are strongly encouraged:

  • Consider having spare masks to ensure passengers are wearing face masks.
  • Encourage regular hand hygiene upon entering and exiting the vehicle. Provide hand sanitizer with at least 60% alcohol at the entry of the school bus.
  • Students may sit behind the driver if a barrier is present (plexiglass or plastic curtain). If no barrier is present students should sit at least two rows behind the driver.
  • Consider directional flow to encourage distancing –Load the bus back to front and unload front to back.
  • Household members/siblings should be seated together in the same seat/side-by-side when possible.
  • All passengers should face forward when bus is operating.
  • Open windows in buses and other school vehicles, if doing so does not pose a safety risk. According to the CDC, “even cracking windows open a few inches improves air circulation.” If the vehicle has air conditioning, do not use the “recirculate” mode.
  • Maintaining records of seating charts is strongly encouraged. Schools should use transportation records for reference when identifying close contacts of recently identified COVID -19 positive students, teachers, and/or staff.
  • For staff and students who must use carpools, encourage driver and passengers who do not live together to wear a face mask when sharing a vehicle. Recommend using hand sanitizer with at least 60% alcohol before and after riding in the vehicle. Recommend limiting the number of passengers in the vehicle to only those necessary. If possible, passengers should sit as far as possible from the driver, such as in the rear seat diagonally across from the driver. Recommend improving ventilation by opening the windows or setting the air ventilation/air conditioning on non-recirculation mode.

For staff and students who take public transportation

The CDC requires face masks to be worn by all travelers while on public transportation. Masks should completely cover the traveler’s mouth and nose while awaiting, boarding, disembarking, or traveling on trains, ferries, subways, buses, taxis, and ride shares. They must also wear a face mask while indoors at transportation hubs. Read more about current CDC public transportation guidance.

Extracurricular activities

  • Guidelines for extracurricular activities are in place to allow the benefits of in-person participation while reducing the risks to students and staff, especially in those instances where students cannot wear a mask while participating.
  • Screening testing should be considered for students who play indoor sports who are not fully vaccinated. If screening testing is conducted, consider rapid testing 2 times per week or before each practice, class and performance. Masks must be worn by unvaccinated players regardless of testing regimen for unvaccinated individuals.
  • In-person choir, singing, and woodwind and brass instrument lessons may be conducted if certain mitigation measures are in place to reduce the spread of respiratory droplets.
    • Singers should be masked unless fully vaccinated, be situated at least 3 feet away or greater from each other, and all facing in the same direction.
    • Woodwind and brass instrument musicians should use bell covers and must be situated at least 6 feet away from other musicians if they are indoors and not fully vaccinated. Performances, practices, and lessons should be held outdoors as much as possible.
    • Musicians should clean their own instruments regularly.
    • Attendance of participants should be taken to facilitate contact tracing in the event a case is identified.
    • Screening COVID testing of unvaccinated woodwind and brass musicians is highly encouraged. Musicians should be tested twice a week or each day that they have group lessons, practices, or performances.

Hand cleaning and respiratory etiquette

Set up hand hygiene stations at the entrance of the facility and the classroom, so that students and staff can clean their hands before they enter. If a sink with soap and water is not available, provide hand sanitizer with at least 60% alcohol at entrance. Hand hygiene should be practiced at the following times:

  • Before and after eating or breaks.
  • After using the toilet.
  • After individuals cough, sneeze, or blow their nose.
  • After playing outdoors.
  • Before and after group activities.
  • Staff: Hand hygiene should also be practiced before and after preparing food and drinks and before and after any medication administration.

Cleaning and maintaining healthy facilities

Although transmission from a contaminated environment is an uncommon mode of transmission, sites should continue to maintain a cleaning schedule. Clean and disinfect frequently touched surfaces within the school and school buses regularly. This includes tables, desktops, chairs, doorknobs/handles, light switches, remote controls, countertops, handles, desks, phones, keyboards, toilets, faucets, and sinks. The CDC has steps for cleaning and disinfecting.

Facilities should use cleaning products that are EPA-approved for use against COVID-19. Store all cleaning products securely and out of the reach of children.

Optimize Ventilation When Possible


Increasing ventilation is an additional safety step and not a replacement for wearing face masks, keeping a safe distance from each other, reducing crowd sizes, handwashing, and other safety precautions.


If possible, increase ventilation in the building by either:

  • Opening windows and/or doors on opposite sides of the building and consider using fans to blow outside air through the building; OR
  • Optimizing ventilation provided by the heating, ventilation, and air conditioning (HVAC) system by:
    • Having the HVAC system checked to assure that it is working properly. If it can be adjusted, the system should be set to provide at least 6 air exchanges per hour if possible or the maximum possible setting.
    • Maximizing the amount of outside air circulated by the system.
    • Installing filters with minimum efficiency reporting values (MERV) of 13, or the highest compatible with the filter rack.
    • Checking that the external air inlet duct is not blocked and that it is at least 15 feet from persons.

Contact tracing in combination with isolation and quarantine in collaboration with the Health Department

In order to continue to make public safety recommendations, the Health Department’s COVID Containment Division’s Pediatric Partnerships team has been tracking patterns of transmission in schools, daycares, and other settings.

Student and staff screening

All facilities create a daily screening checklist for students and staff which includes screening for fever, symptoms, exposure and a visual inspection. This should be made available to all staff, parents, and students to self-monitor for signs of illness. The Health Department has developed a COVID-19 sample screening tool. All school staff should help reduce the risk of in-school COVID transmission by identifying any colleagues and students who appear to be ill. Schools should educate staff and parents on how to monitor symptoms at home every day. If an individual screens positive, they should not enter the facility. On-site screening of symptoms and exposure history may be helpful for MDS classrooms.

Watch for ANY of the following symptoms of COVID-19
Fever or chills

Muscle or body aches

Headache

Sore throat

Congestion or runny nose

Fatigue

Nausea or vomiting

Diarrhea

New or persistent cough

New loss of taste or smell

Shortness of breath or difficulty breathing

If a child is exhibiting extreme fussiness, shortness of breath, or blue-colored lips, skin, nail beds the child’s parent should seek immediate medical attention.

Exposure: If an unvaccinated staff member or child has been exposed to anyone with a confirmed case of COVID-19 in the past 10 days, they should return or remain home.  The Health Department has developed a sample test result letter to be given to caregivers explaining why the child is being dismissed and criteria for returning to the facility.

If a vaccinated staff member or student has been exposed, they should get tested 3-5 days after exposure.

Plan for when someone becomes sick or potentially exposed to COVID-19


Encourage staff and parents to talk to their own and their children’s physicians about their individual risk factors for COVID-19 and the risks of working at or attending school. We strongly recommend flexibility and accommodations for staff who are at higher risk for severe illness from COVID-19, such as those 65 years and older and those with weakened immune systems.


  • Ensure facility has updated contact information (including date of birth, phone number, home address, grade level, and cohort) for all staff and families to facilitate contact tracing and rapid communication.
  • The Health Department has created a sample parent/guardian agreement that describes their commitment to keeping their children home when sick and seeking appropriate medical care.
  • Schools should designate an isolation room or area for anyone who experiences COVID-19 symptoms. If using the nurse’s office, this area should be at least six feet apart from where other children or staff use the nurse’s office.  If possible, use screens or curtains to create a barrier between individuals who are ill and in nurse’s office.
  • Staff who develop symptoms of COVID should immediately be sent home. If they need to be picked up, they should wait in the designated isolation room or area while waiting.
  • If students develop symptoms, they should be brought to a designated isolation room while waiting to be picked up. The staff member waiting with the student should wear a surgical mask.
  • Close contacts are defined as those individuals that have been within 6 feet for 15 minutes masked or unmasked.
  • Cleaning/disinfecting after a COVID case or COVID symptoms:
    • Clean and disinfect all areas used by the person who is sick, such as classroom, offices, bathrooms, common areas, and your isolation room or area and in the classroom where the sick child or staff member was after the sick child or staff member has gone home.

Updated school/child facing program quarantine threshold for closures

Situation Response       
One or two cases of COVID-19 in a class or extracurricular cohort Those identified as a close contact will be asked to quarantine.* School attendance for these individuals will be paused for 10 days. This may be shortened to 7 days with a negative test after day 5. Additionally, a school may utilize a test-to-stay model for close contacts to eliminate the need to quarantine.
3 or more cases for a classroom/cohort/team The entire cohort/classroom/team must quarantine*.
3 or more cases in a school in the same grade (not concentrated in one classroom)

 

3 or more cases in the school if there is an epidemiological link to the school (classroom or school hosted extracurricular activity

The entire grade must quarantine*.

 

Multiple cases in staff/students:

6 or more cases in a school within 14 days

 

 

The entire school/child facing program must quarantine*.
Multiple COVID-19 clusters across grades The entire school/child facing program must quarantine*.
1 or 2 cases of COVID-19 on a school athletic team All unvaccinated members of the team must quarantine*. A test-to-stay model may be used to eliminate the need to quarantine.

* The recommended quarantine is 10 days. Quarantine may be shortened using a test-based strategy. Individuals who test negative after day 5 may return after day 7.

Quarantines and pauses of 7 and 10 days are contingent upon 100% mask usage except during distanced meals. Activities where masks cannot be worn, such as playing certain instruments, must be paused for the full 14 days. Symptom monitoring must continue for the entire 14 days regardless of vaccination status.

Fully vaccinated individuals who are close contacts of a case are not required to quarantine, but should get tested 3-5 days after an exposure. Fully vaccinated individuals with symptoms must isolate and be tested. Symptomatic students who test negative must mask until resolution of symptoms regardless of vaccination status.

Currently Test to Stay is paused due to rising case counts.
As case counts fall, we will reevaluate the best time to Test to Stay.

  • Test to Stay: Schools may choose to use this testing method if 1-2 individuals in a cohort test positive.
    • Rapid testing must be offered on site to take advantage of this option.
    • Families must be made aware that there is risk of continued exposure with test to stay and given the opportunity to allow their child to complete quarantine at home.
    • Test to stay does not apply for household contacts.
Situation Response
If 1 or 2 individuals in a cohort test positive Entire cohort must mask through day 7 after last exposure, regardless of vaccination status 

Asymptomatic unvaccinated individuals who have had a close contact must test as soon as possible after contact and within a day. Then, test on alternate days until day 7 after exposure. If a testing day falls on a or a day off of school, test on the next day in school.

 

If 3 or more individuals in a cohort test positive on subsequent PCR tests

 

All unvaccinated individuals in the cohort must complete quarantine at home.
  • Any symptomatic individual in the cohort who is negative must be tested with PCR.
  • PCR recommended if multiple symptomatic individuals.
  • Any unvaccinated cohort members who are unable to mask or refuse any test must complete quarantine out of school.

Common clinical scenarios

The Health Department will consult with you on COVID containment issues for your facility. Here are common clinical scenarios.

What are COVID-19 symptoms?

Symptoms of COVID- 19 are: are fever, chills, muscle pain, headache, sore throat, nausea/vomiting, diarrhea, fatigue, congestion/runny nose, new or persistent cough, shortness of breath, new loss of sense of smell, new loss of sense of taste, *difficulty breathing, *confusion, *persistent chest pain or pressure, *cyanosis (pale gray or blue skin, lips, or nail beds), *inability to awaken or stay awake.  *These symptoms are very concerning and should be evaluated immediately by a healthcare provider.

I have COVID-19 symptoms. I have been exposed to someone with COVID-19.

  • A probable case is when someone has been exposed to COVID-19 AND develops COVID symptoms. Probable cases have a higher risk of spreading COVID-19 to others. COVID testing is strongly recommended. You may return to school after any of the following are true:
    • You test negative for COVID-19. You must also meet the school’s normal criteria for return after an illness. You MUST still complete quarantine because of your exposure history. Please see “I have been notified I am a close contact in a school setting.” OR
    • A clinician has evaluated you and documented an alternative diagnosis. You MUST still complete quarantine because of your exposure history. Please see “I have been notified I am a close contact in a school setting.” OR
    • If ALL the following are true:
      • at least 10 days have passed since symptoms started, AND
      • you don’t have a fever for at least 24 hours without taking fever-reducing medicines, AND
      • symptoms are improving (some mild symptoms may linger).
    • COVID-19 shares many symptoms with other potentially contagious conditions. Even if you are not diagnosed with COVID-19, you should still follow your school’s normal illness policy.

I have COVID-19 symptoms. I am fully vaccinated.

  • Fully vaccinated means 2 weeks have passed since the final dose of a COVID vaccine series. For example, 2 weeks after a 1-dose vaccine or 2 weeks after the second dose of a 2-dose vaccine series.
  • Symptoms like fever, fatigue, headache, chills, myalgia, and pain in joints, may occur following COVID vaccination, usually within the first three days of vaccination. COVID symptoms that are atypical after vaccination (like cough, shortness of breath, runny nose, sore throat, loss of taste or smell should not be attributed to the COVID vaccine. COVID vaccination does not cause a positive COVID test so a positive test should not be attributed to vaccination.
  • Although COVID vaccines are effective in preventing severe illness, it may still be possible to get milder COVID-19 and pass it on to others. If you have symptoms concerning for COVID, testing is strongly recommended. Testing for vaccinated individuals should be done 3-5 days after exposure.
  • You may return to school after any of the following are true:
    • You test negative for COVID-19. You must meet the school’s normal criteria for return after an illness. OR
    • A clinician has evaluated you, documented an alternative diagnosis, and verifies that you may return to school. A positive COVID test should NOT be attributed to vaccination. OR
    • If ALL the following are true:
      • at least 10 days have passed since symptoms started AND
      • you don’t have a fever for at least 24 hours without taking fever-reducing medicines AND
      • symptoms are improving (some mild symptoms may linger).
    • COVID-19 shares many symptoms with other potentially contagious conditions. Even if you are not diagnosed with COVID-19, you should still follow you school’s normal illness policy.

I tested positive for COVID-19. I am NOT immunocompromised. I do NOT have severe COVID-19.

  • A case is when someone tests positive for COVID-19. By law, cases of COVID must be reported to the local department of public health. If you have symptoms, you may return to school 10 days after symptoms started, you don’t have a fever for at least 24 hours without taking fever-reducing medicines, and symptoms are improving (some mild symptoms may linger). If you do not have symptoms you may return to school 10 days after the COVID test was performed.
  • The COVID-19 positive individual does NOT need a repeat COVID test or a doctor’s note to return to school.
  • Close contacts must be identified and notified.

I tested positive for COVID-19. I am immunocompromised or I have had severe COVID-19.

  • This is still considered a case. Please consult CDC guidance, the Health Department, or your medical provider to determine if you considered SEVERELY immunocompromised or have had severe COVID-19. If you are SEVERELY immunocompromised or have had severe COVID-19, isolation should be extended to, at least, a total of 20 days.

I tested positive for COVID-19. I have previously tested positive for COVID-19.

  • If the two test dates are greater than 90 days apart, the second test is considered a new case, and you should isolate. Please refer to the instructions for isolation above.
  • If the test dates are between 45 and 90 days, you do not need to isolate but you should monitor your symptoms. If you develop symptoms, you should be evaluated by a medical provider.
  • If the two test dates within 45 days apart, the second positive test likely represents the shedding of bits of the virus, but you are not likely infectious. You do not need to isolate.

I tested positive for COVID-19. I have been vaccinated.

  • A breakthrough case is when someone who is fully vaccinated is diagnosed with COVID. A breakthrough case is treated the same as a case. Please see “I tested positive for COVID-19” above. Vaccination does NOT cause someone to test positive for COVID-19.

I tested positive for COVID-19. I am an essential worker.

  • This is still considered a case. Please see guidance above.

I tested positive for COVID-19. I was wearing a mask while at school.

  • This is still considered a case. Please see guidance above.

Who is considered a close contact in a school setting?

Regardless of facemask use, students, teachers, and staff who were within 6 feet apart from the individual with COVID-19 for a total of 15 minutes or more during the infections period are close contacts.  To identify close contacts, schools should maintain records of students seating charts in classrooms and lunchrooms and involvement in athletics, extracurriculars, and transportation. Schools should limit congregation in hallways, at lockers, and in any other communal space.

What are the criteria for pausing in-school instruction and activities?

Schools must follow Health Department recommendations for closure and pausing in-person activities. School closings for nonpublic schools will be based on evidence of COVID-19 transmission in the school or community, introductions of COVID-19 to the school that represent an exposure risk to the school.

Situation Response   
One or two cases of COVID-19 in a class or extracurricular cohort Those identified as a close contact will be asked to quarantine.* School attendance for these individuals will be paused for 10 days. This may be shortened to 7 days with a negative test after day 5. Additionally, a school may utilize a test-to-stay model for close contacts to eliminate the need to quarantine.
3 or more cases for a classroom/cohort/team The entire cohort/classroom/team must quarantine*.
3 or more cases in a school in the same grade (not concentrated in one classroom)

 

3 or more cases in the school if there is an epidemiological link to the school (classroom or school hosted extracurricular activity

The entire grade must quarantine*.

 

Multiple cases in staff/students:

6 or more cases in a school within 14 days

 

 

The entire school/child facing program must quarantine*.
Multiple COVID-19 clusters across grades The entire school/child facing program must quarantine*.
1 or 2 cases of COVID-19 on a school athletic team All unvaccinated members of the team must quarantine*. A test-to-stay model may be used to eliminate the need to quarantine.

*  The recommended quarantine is 10 days. Quarantine may be shortened using a test-based strategy. Individuals who test negative after day 5 may return after day 7.

Quarantines and pauses of 7 and 10 days are contingent upon 100% mask usage except during distanced meals. Activities where masks cannot be worn, such as playing certain instruments, must be paused for the full 14 days. Symptom monitoring must continue for the entire 14 days regardless of vaccination status.

Fully vaccinated individuals are not required to quarantine, but should get tested 3-5 days after exposure. Fully vaccinated individuals with symptoms must isolate and be tested. Symptomatic students who test negative must mask until resolution of symptoms regardless of vaccination status.

Close contacts should self-quarantine. Quarantine means an individual stays home for 10 days after last contact with someone who has COVID-19, watch for symptoms like fever, cough, shortness of breath, or new loss of taste or smell, and stay away from others as much as possible. See calculating isolation and quarantine period (PDF).

I have been notified I am a close contact in a school setting. I have tested negative for COVID-19.

  • Quarantine may be shortened to 7 days if the student/staff member tests negative for COVID-19. The test should be done no more than 48 hours before they plan to leave quarantine. See calculating isolation and quarantine period (PDF). Test to stay may apply.

I have been notified I am a close contact in a school setting. I have been vaccinated.

  • You do NOT need to quarantine after close contact with someone with COVID-19 if ALL are true:
  • You are fully vaccinated. That means it’s been at least 2 weeks after the final dose in your vaccine series (2 shots for Pfizer and Moderna, 1 shot for Johnson & Johnson) ;
  • You have not had COVID symptoms; AND
  • You are NOT hospitalized or living in a long-term care facility.

You should get tested 3 – 5 days after exposure to a close contact.

For 14 days after exposure or until a negative test result, vaccinated individuals should wear a mask and abstain from activities that would require unmasking with the exception of distanced meal breaks and mask breaks.

I have been notified I am a close contact in a school setting. I have symptoms.

  • A probable case is when someone has been exposed to COVID-19 AND develops symptoms. Please see “I have COVID symptoms. I have been exposed to someone with COVID-19.” above.

I have been notified I am a close contact in a school setting. I have been vaccinated. I have symptoms.

  • Although COVID vaccines are effective in preventing severe illness, it may still be possible to get milder COVID-19 and pass it on to others. You should still be evaluated for a COVID-19 and be tested.
  • Please see “I have a COVID- symptoms. I have been vaccinated.” above for criteria to return to school.

I have been notified I am a close contact in a school setting. Do I need to be tested?

  • Testing is strongly recommended, regardless of vaccination status.
  • If you have been vaccinated, you should get tested 3-5 days after exposure.
  • For those who have not been vaccinated vaccination, the recommendation remains to be tested 5-7 days after exposure.
  • Test to Stay may be an option.

I am a close contact of a close contact.

  • A secondary contact is someone who was in close contact with someone else who was exposed to COVID. For example, this could be the classmate of an asymptomatic student whose sibling has COVID. Quarantine is not recommended for secondary contacts.
  • However, recommendations may change if the primary contact ends up becoming symptomatic or tests positive for COVID.

Childcare and early childhood education centers

ECE facilities should follow the PA Office of Child Development and Early Learning (OCDEL) protocols where applicable, including reporting requirements. Masking continues to be required in all Early Childhood Education Centers in Philadelphia.

Napping/resting

  • Increase the space between cribs and rest mats to maximize the space between children. The cribs and rest mats should be 3 feet apart if space permits. Consider having children nap in head-to-feet positioning to maximize space between children’s faces.
  • Use bedding (sheets, pillows, blankets, sleeping bags) that can be washed. Keep each child’s bedding separate, and consider storing in individually labeled bins, cubbies, or bags. Cots and mats should be labeled for each child. Bedding that touches a child’s skin should be cleaned at least weekly or before use by another child.

Hand hygiene

  • Children should be supervised by an adult when using hand sanitizer to avoid accidental ingestion or contact of hand sanitizer with their eyes. For younger children, staff should apply the sanitizer and rub the children’s hands until they are dry.

Face masks

  • Face masks should not be placed on:
    • Babies and children younger than 2 years old.
    • Anyone who has trouble breathing or is unconscious.
    • Anyone who is incapacitated or otherwise unable to remove the cloth face mask without assistance.
    • Anyone during naptime.

Additional resources


  • Text COVIDPHL to 888-777 to receive updates to your phone.
  • Call (800) 722-7112 to speak to a health care professional on the Greater Philadelphia Coronavirus Helpline.

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