COVID school guidance

On the heels of revising its COVID-19 guidance for the general public, the CDC has now updated its guidance for schools to allow for a shorter isolation and quarantine time period. School districts must follow Washington State Department of Health (DOH) guidelines, and the state DOH just changed its guidance to align with the CDC. 

To better understand how these revisions impact students in Kalama, here is a summary of the recent changes:

Symptoms & Isolation:

If a person with COVID-19 symptoms tests negative with a PCR (molecular) or rapid (antigen) test, they may return to school as long as their symptoms are improving and they are not a close contact of someone with COVID-19 and subject to quarantine. If the test is conducted via a rapid test, it is recommended they have a confirmatory PCR test or repeat a rapid test within 48 hours. 

If the individual is using an at-home test, they should carefully follow all package instructions. To quickly and easily share the results of an at-home test with a school nurse, please fill out a KSD COVID-19 Home Test Submission Form.

If a person tests positive for COVID-19 with a PCR or rapid test, they can return to school when:

  • 5 days have passed since symptom onset, or since positive test date if no symptoms  are present; AND
  • No symptoms are present, or symptoms are resolving; AND
  • No fever within the past 24 hours without the use of fever-reducing medications.
  • Students and staff should continue monitoring for symptoms and wearing a well-fitting mask around others through day 10 (days  6-10) both in and out of school, including during extracurricular activities.  
  • Individuals who have been in isolation may test on day 5 of their isolation period. If the test result is positive, they must continue to isolate until day 10. If the test result is negative, they may return to school and should continue to wear a well-fitting mask around others until day 10. 


Students and staff who are a close contact of someone with COVID-19 may need to quarantine for at least five days (the first full day after exposure is day 1) after their last close contact.

The following groups are required to quarantine and test negative prior to coming back to in-person school if identified as a close contact:

  • Individuals ages 18 and older who have completed the primary vaccine series (or single J&J) but have not received a booster shot when eligible.
  • Those who are not vaccinated or have not completed a primary vaccine series.

The following close contacts do not need to quarantine:

  • Individuals ages 18 and older who have received all recommended vaccine doses, including boosters.
  • Individuals ages 5-17 who have completed the primary series of COVID-19 vaccinations.
  • Those that have had confirmed cases of COVID-19 within the last 90 days.

Test to Stay Program:

To reduce days out of the classroom, the state has announced that eligible students and staff who are close contacts of a COVID-19 case may participate in a twice-a-week testing program known as “Test to Stay.” Participants in the program may continue to attend school and school-related extracurricular activities during their quarantine period.

Kalama School District is pleased to announce that it will be launching a “Test to Stay” program once staffing is in place. Families will receive more information on this topic later this month.

DOH Flowchart:

With the changes to guidance, the Department of Health/ESD 112 Flowchart is now out of date. This document is expected to be updated in the coming days, and will be shared with families as soon as an updated version becomes available. The updated Flowchart is now available, here.

We thank our families and community members for their continued patience as we respond to the rapidly evolving COVID-19 landscape.