Exclusion: When students and staff should stay home or not be admitted to school

Screening Students and Staff for Symptoms > Exclusion

Schools should expect that students, teachers, or staff may contract symptoms consistent with COVID-19 or may come into close contact with someone who has COVID-19. These individuals should not attend in-person activities when symptoms are present, or when following quarantine recommendations following contact.

The school nurse’s role includes collaborating with families to determine if students need documentation on file from a healthcare provider for students with chronic health conditions to ensure students are not excluded from school unnecessarily.

Key Considerations for Students:

  • CDC does not currently recommend universal symptom screenings (screening all students grades K-12) be conducted by schools.
  • CDC recommends strongly encouraging parents or caregivers to monitor their children for symptoms of illness every day. Families can conduct daily home screenings reporting their answers on two topics: symptoms and close contact/potential exposure.
  • Students who are exhibiting symptoms of illness should not attend school in-person. Consider the student’s ability to participate in school virtually or be provided with assignments to be completed at home.
  • Consider developing exclusion criteria for students with chronic conditions, that present with COVID-19 like symptoms, to support minimizing repeated exclusion from school.
  • Procedures to notify students and their families that they may be contacted by a contact tracer if the student has a positive COVID-19 test or has come into close contact with someone who has COVID-19.
  • Encourage families to actively participate in contact tracing.
  • Applicable federal, state, and local laws, regulations, ordinances, and other sources of authority, including district and school policies and procedures, and applicable standards of practice.

Key Considerations for School Staff:

  • Actively encourage sick school staff to stay home. School staff who have symptoms should notify their school administrator, or designee and stay home.
  • Schools may consider conducting daily in-person or virtual health checks (e.g., symptom and/or temperature screening) of school staff before they enter the school facility, in accordance with state and local public health authorities and school policy and procedures.
  • If schools are implementing in-person health checks, conduct them safely and respectfully. Schools may use social distancing, barrier or partition controls, or personal protective equipment (PPE) to protect the screener.
  • Follow guidance from the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) regarding confidentiality of medical records from health checks.
  • To prevent stigma and discrimination in the workplace, school staff health screenings should be as private as possible. Schools should not determine school staff risk based on race or country of origin and be sure to maintain confidentiality of each individual’s medical status and history.
  • School staff should inform their school administrator or designee if they have been exposed to a positive COVID-19 case outside of the school community, such as a sick family member at home with COVID-19.
  • Consider advising school staff that the local health department may contact them for contact tracing if the individual has a positive COVID-19 test or has come into close contact with someone who has COVID-19.
  • Applicable federal, state, and local laws, regulations, ordinances, and other sources of authority, including district and school policies and procedures, and applicable standards of practice.

NASN Resources

COVID-19 Symptom Screener for Students

Return to School Video Series: Staying Home When you are Sick [English and Spanish]

CDC Resources

COVID-19 School Symptom Screening Flowchart

Symptoms of Coronavirus

Coronavirus Print Resources: Symptoms of Coronavirus

Screening K-12 Students of Symptoms of COVID-19: Limitations and Considerations

What To Do If You Are Sick

“Answer the Call” COVID-19 Contact Tracing Video

COVID-19 Guidance: Businesses and Employers

Stay Home When You Are Sick Print Resource

10 Things You Can Do to Manage COVID-19 Symptoms at Home Print Resource

Appendices, Updated Language for Close Contact Definition

Operating K-12 Schools and Child Care Programs Schools During COVID-19: CDC’s Considerations

Other Resources

What you should know about COVID-19 and the ADA, and other EEO laws | U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission

Resources Shared by School Nurses

See what school nurses have developed or are sharing in NASN's online discussions.

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