Q & A With the Health Office

With answers from Providence Academy School Nurse, Mrs. Maureen Murphy!


Why are siblings at school if their brother/sister is home sick?
If the sick student has one less common symptom, siblings are allowed to come to school. The parent has chosen to watch the ill student at home for worsening symptoms.

My child still has a cough.  Can he/she come back to school?
•  Once there is an alternative diagnosis or negative COVID test, your child is allowed back if their symptoms have improved.
•  Generally, this means they no longer feel ill, have not had a fever for 24 hours, are able to keep up with daily routines, and any remaining symptoms (cough, runny nose) are mild and infrequent and do not interfere with their day.

My child has a cold, should I just wait until he/she is better?

Where do I find the Screening Tool to check my child’s symptoms before school?

I am not clear on when to keep my child home. 

Close Contact

My child was told they are a close contact to someone who tested positive for COVID. Do the rest of my children need to stay home?

  • If the child who is the close contact has no symptoms, siblings are allowed to come to school.
  • If your child is old enough, isolate them from the family as best you can for 14 days.
  • For the child who is the close contact, 14 days of quarantine is required even if they have a negative COVID test.
  • If your child who is the close contact does develop symptoms, they should be tested.
    • If negative, children can return to school
    • If positive, your child is home for 10 days from the onset of their symptoms
    • Siblings now stay home for 14 days from their last exposure to your ill child

My child has been told they are a close contact to a positive case. They have been tested twice since we were notified and both tests were negative. Can they come back early from their quarantine?

  • The incubation period for SARS-CoV-2 is from 2 to 14 days. The Incubation period is the  time from when you are exposed to the virus until the time you can develop symptoms. In the weekly meetings with MDH, they stress that there is no testing out of quarantine. They have identified positive cases developing on day 13 and 14.


My child was tested for strep and COVID. The strep came back positive. The strep was treated, can they return to school before the COVID test results are back?
•  There must be a negative COVID test result before they are able to return to school.

My college student is home. They are being tested due to symptoms. Do my PA students need to stay home? 

  • Yes. When any member of the family is being tested due to symptoms, all family members stay home until the results are received. 
  • If anyone is being tested who does not have symptoms, other family members are not required to stay home (testing can be required as part of a job, pre-surgery, etc)

Why are some test results coming back so quickly?

  • Per the MDH, there are two types of tests available. Polymerase chain reaction (PCR) is a viral test that checks a sample from the inside of the nose or throat to determine if a person currently has an infection with SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes COVID-19. Results can take several days.  
  • Antigen tests are immunoassays that detect the presence of a specific viral antigen, which implies current viral infection. Antigen tests are currently authorized to be performed on a nasal swab specimen and results can be returned in 15 minutes.


My child has allergies, how do I know the difference?

  • During this pandemic, because COVID-19 symptoms and allergy symptoms can overlap, consider the possibility that this could be COVID-19 infection rather than assuming it is allergies. This requires a case by case, episode by episode, review.
  • Determine if this is new or worsening and consider if a medical evaluation is necessary.