COVID-19 Self-Screening Symptoms and Exposure Reminders
Howard County Public School System schools and offices are open five days a week for in-person instruction. To maintain healthy school communities, HCPSS staff and families are expected to follow all necessary protocols and guidance.
Symptom Self Check
Parents/guardians should keep their children home if they are experiencing symptom(s) associated with any communicable disease, including COVID-19. In addition, parents/guardians are to perform the following COVID-19 health check every day before the student leaves home.
A student should NOT come to school with any of these symptoms:
- fever of 100.4 degrees or higher
- sore throat
- difficulty breathing
- diarrhea or vomiting
- new onset of severe headache (especially with fever), or
- new loss of taste or smell
For persons with chronic conditions such as asthma, the symptoms should represent a change from baseline.
Children exhibiting symptoms of COVID-19 may not attend school and must be kept home.
Students exhibiting symptoms of COVID-19 need to be evaluated for COVID-19 or an alternate medical diagnosis. They may not return to school until medically cleared. In addition, students with symptoms of any communicable disease may not attend school until evaluated and medically treated.
Contact Tracing and Quarantining
Contact tracing is handled by the Howard County Health Department, with support from and in coordination with the HCPSS Office of Health Services. School principals will send out communication to the school community when there’s a case in the building. No personally identifying information will be shared. If a student is identified as a close contact, the parent/guardian will receive individual communication about the quarantine procedure from health services and additional communication from the local health department contact tracers.
Only unvaccinated students and adults who are identified as close contacts must quarantine. Vaccinated students and staff will not be required to quarantine unless they receive a positive test or are displaying symptoms, however they will be expected to monitor their symptoms closely for 14 days. It also is recommended that vaccinated individuals get tested 3-5 days after exposure, regardless of whether they are exhibiting symptoms.
For unvaccinated students and staff members, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention continues to recommend a 14-day quarantine, however, based on local circumstances and resources, the following options to shorten quarantine are acceptable alternatives (this does not apply to children age five and under):
- An unvaccinated student or staff member determined to be a close contact with a person with verified COVID-19 may end quarantine after Day 10 without testing as long as the student or staff member has remained symptom-free and continues to monitor for symptoms through the full 14-day period. They must agree to immediately isolate and get tested if symptoms appear within that 14-day period.
- An unvaccinated student or staff member determined to be a close contact with a person with verified COVID-19 may end quarantine after Day 7 with a negative COVID-19 PCR test on or after Day 5, if they remain symptom-free and agree to immediately isolate if symptoms appear within that 14-day period.
Unvaccinated or vaccinated students or staff who have tested positive for COVID-19 should isolate and not return to school until they have been out at least 10 days from the onset of symptoms or positive test without symptoms, remain fever-free for 24 hours, and show a consistent improvement of symptoms.
The Howard County Health Department (HCHD) treats positive cases in the prekindergarten program as it would a daycare setting, closing the affected classrooms for a minimum of 14 days. Additional details on how positive cases of COVID-19 in a prekindergarten classroom are handled can be found online.
Additional information on the 2021-2022 school year, and answers to frequently asked questions can be found online.