Q&A for Parents of Children involved in COVID-19 cases and outbreaks
Cases of COVID-19
My child has been diagnosed with COVID-19. What do I have to do?
Children who have COVID 19 may have mild symptoms such as stuffy nose, fever and cough. Treating the symptoms to make your child comfortable, as well as encouraging fluids and healthy food, will be important. Children may also be very tired and should have plenty of rest. If your child experiences any shortness of breath or difficulty breathing, call 811.
How long does my child have to isolate?
A child who is infected with COVID 19 should isolate away from the household for 10 days from either the beginning of symptoms developing or, if the child has no symptoms, the date of their positive test. Public health will advise you on when self-isolation will end. If your child is not able to isolate alone, someone should isolate with them.
How long do I have to isolate if I decide to isolate with my child?
If you are fully immunized, you finish isolation with your child who has COVID-19. During isolation you should test at day 0-1, 4-6 and 9-11. Following the isolation, you must test three times on days 0-1, day 4-6 and 9-11. If you have any symptoms, you must isolate immediately and be tested. You must wear a mask and pay careful attention to hand hygiene and physical distancing for 14 days following isolation.
If you are not immunized, you must isolate for an additional 14 days following your positive child’s isolation.
Will my child have to be tested again?
No, once your child tests positive they are not required to test again.
What about the rest of the household?
If other household members are fully immunized, they will be tested three times, on day 0-1, day 4-6 and day 9-11. Day 1 is the first day after your infected child starts to isolate away from the rest of the household. If able to isolate away from the person who is infected they will need to isolate for the first 7 days and until 2 negative test results are received.
If there are those in the household who are not fully immunized, they will have to isolate for 14 days from the last contact with the infected child and test at day 0-1, 4-6 and 9-11.
Why are some people advised to isolate for 10 days or less and others have to isolate for 14 days?
The length of isolation is based on the type of contact and the level of risk of contact with a case of COVID 19. The immunization status of the contact also impacts the need for isolation and the length of isolation.
A risk assessment is done in each circumstance and consideration is given to risk and safety of the population while, as much as possible, minimizing the isolation requirement.
Can I go to work? Can my other children go to school?
If you have been exposed but you are now isolating away from the person in the household who is infected with COVID 19 and you are fully immunized, you will need to stay home for 7 days and have 2 negative tests before returning to work or school.
If you are not immunized, you will have to isolate for 14 days after the last contact with the infected child in your household.
Close contact of a person infected with COVID
My child is a close contact of a person infected with COVID 19 but does not live in the same house with them. What do we do?
A non-household close contact may be a classmate, a teammate, or someone who attended an event with someone who tested positive for COVID 19. If they are fully immunized, strict isolation is not required, however, public health measures such as wearing a mask and washing hands should be followed and contacts minimized. Activities should be limited to essential tasks such as school, work, grocery shopping etc. Sleep overs, play dates or other social gatherings are discouraged for the first 7 days. You should monitor your child for symptoms of COVID 19 and have them tested on day 0, 3, 6 and 9. This would also apply to a non-household contact who is an adult.
If your child is not immunized, they will need to isolate away from the family for 14 days. If this is not possible, a parent may choose to isolate with the child. This means only having contact with that child and isolating away from the rest of the family/household.
If I isolate with my child, do I have to be tested on the same schedule?
Unless your child tests positive, or you begin to have symptoms, you do not need to be tested while isolating with your child who is a close contact.
What about the rest of the household?
The rest of the household should isolate away from the close contact. If this is not possible, one parent/sibling may isolate with them. If the close contact remains negative at the end of the isolation period, both can finish isolation at the same time.
Once the close contact has a negative test, and the household is isolating away from them they can resume necessary activities, including work, provided they wear a mask and pay careful attention to hand hygiene and physical distancing for the next 14 days. They should monitor themselves closely and be tested if any symptoms develop.
I am fully immunized but my child needs support to self-isolate as a close contact of a case, is there any exception to full isolation?
If you are in close contact with your child when they are self-isolating and they are a close contact of a case, you are expected to isolate with your child. Someone who has been in close contact with a person infected with COVID 19 may be incubating an infection and can be infectious up to 48 hours prior to showing symptoms. Even if you are fully immunized, you can become infected and may spread the infection to others. Once your child has tested negative on the third test and the incubation period is over (14 days) you are also finished isolation.
What do I do if my child is a casual contact?
If you have been notified your child is a casual contact, you should get them tested on day 4 after last possible contact and watch for symptoms. At the first sign of symptoms isolate and get tested as soon as possible.
Why weren’t all schools that had children involved in the outbreak closed?
Public health investigates all people identified as being in contact with someone infected with COIVD-19. This occurs in both single instances of infection and in an outbreak to determine the risk of infection they pose to those they have been in contact with.
Many things are considered. For instance:
- the amount of time the infected person was at school while potentially infectious
- the time between the contacts being exposed and the isolation starting for the contacts (the less time the better)
- were all the contacts identified and isolated in time to open the school?
When there is one case of COVID-19 in a school, it is much easier to determine close contacts and household contacts and get their initial test results back. When there are several cases it takes more time to investigate all contacts and the school may be required to close until all close contacts can be tested.
Once contacts are in isolation, if the second test is positive but the initial test negative, they would not have exposed others to the virus.
When an outbreak is to this point then new cases start to slow down, and the outbreak can soon be declared over.
For instance, if a student is infected with COVID and not aware and has been in school during the time they were infectious (e.g. 48 hours before symptom onset) more follow up would be required.
This situation would require more investigation and the school might need to close for a few days until the investigation can be completed.
We have been told that our child is a close contact and a casual contact. Which one is it?
In some circumstances there may have been more than one situation where contact may have happened, and your child may have appeared on more than one list.
If you have received call saying your child is both a casual contact and a close contact, you should follow the guidance for a close contact.
I’m confused about the last day of isolation as a close contact. What does day 0 and day 1 mean?
The last day you were in contact with a person infected with COVID 19 is day 0.
If you are a casual contact and may have been in contact with someone who is infected with COVID 19, day 0 will be the last possible day you may have had contact with the infected person.