What is the current COVID-19 Guidance for PreK-12 schools?

COVID-19 policies and procedures for PreK-12 schools

The Connecticut Department of Public Health has updated its COVID-19 guidance around quarantine, isolation, testing, and contact tracing for children attending PreK-12 schools. The guidance is based on a CDC statement that recommends shorter isolation and quarantine periods after being exposed to COVID-19.

The latest guidance is focused on activities that reduce transmission rates for students testing positive, or who have been exposed to COVID-19:

  • Even with mild symptoms, you should isolate at home, test for the virus, and stay away from outside activities until all symptoms are significantly improved.
  • If you test positive, isolate at home for at least 5 days (or longer if you still have symptoms) and wear a mask at all times when around others in your household.
  • Unvaccinated or partially vaccinated individuals who have had close contact with an individual with confirmed or suspected COVID-19 should quarantine at home and test for the virus 5 days after their last exposure.

This is especially important in situations where extended exposure may have occurred, such as with household or family members, or unmasked social settings such as sleepovers and parties, and/or during athletic activities.

You can visit this page to view the complete guidance document.

Returning to School After Quarantine 

The updated guidance allows students to return to in-person learning after their quarantine period once they are fever-free for 24 hours and any other symptoms are improving if they have a negative test result. 

Latest on Masks 

The statewide face mask mandate has been lifted. Local school districts, public and private schools now have the discretion to impose their own mask requirements. Certain individual campuses may still require masking. Check with your student’s school for information about their policy. 

Free Testing Information 

The Connecticut Department of Public Health (DPH) has partnered with the Connecticut State Department of Education (CSDE) to offer free weekly COVID-19 screening testing to all PK -12 public and private schools through the Project COVID DeteCT testing program

Frequent testing can help keep schools open by preventing the spread of COVID-19. 

The program is optional and parents and guardians must complete a consent form for their child to participate. 

  • Screening is free for students, teachers, and staff participating in the screening program and insurance information is not collected. 
  • Results should be available within 24-48 hours from the test. 
  • PCR tests are performed weekly by a state-approved lab.
  • The tests used in schools are painless lower nasal swabs 

Contract Tracing 

Schools are no longer doing contact tracing for in-school exposures. 

Vaccine Requirements and Booster Shots 

There are currently no mandates in place requiring COVID-19 vaccination for students. However, schoolchildren ages 5 and older are encouraged to get fully vaccinated as soon as they are eligible to reduce the risks of transmission and negative impacts on our schools and communities.  

At-Home Testing 

Home tests are an easy way to test for COVID-10. At-home tests are more reliable when used by symptomatic individuals. If you have had close contact with a known COVID-19 case or are experiencing symptoms and receive a negative test at home, visit a free test site to receive a PCR test. 

Further Reading

Connecticut Data Tracker

How do I get the COVID vaccine in Connecticut?

Latest COVID-19 Guidance for Connecticut residents and workers