COVID-19 Frequently Asked Questions
What is COVID-19?
Who is at risk?
Early reports from China show some people are at a higher risk of getting very sick from the virus. This includes:
- Older adults
- People who have serious medical conditions like:
- Heart disease
- Lung disease
The CDC reports no evidence that children are more susceptible.
What are the symptoms?
Symptoms can be mild to severe respiratory illness with:
- Fever over 100.4 or chills
- Nasal congestion or runny nose
- New loss of taste or smell
- Sore throat
- Shortness of breath or difficulty breathing
- Nausea or vomiting
- Muscle or body aches
What can I do to prevent the virus?
- Wash or sanitize your hands frequently. Wash for 20 seconds or more, or use a hand sanitizer that contains at least 60% alcohol if soap and water are not available.
- Practice social distancing (stay six feet apart).
- Wear a mask while in public.
- Avoid close contact with people who are sick.
- Stay home when sick.
- Be fever-free for 24 hours without the use of fever-reducing medications prior to returning to school
- Cover your mouth or nose when coughing or sneezing.
- Avoid touching your eyes, nose or mouth.
- Practice other healthy habits like drinking plenty of fluids, eating well, and getting adequate sleep.
What travel restrictions does HPISD have in place?
HPISD will follow the CDC’s criteria for locations with significant numbers of the virus. Currently, families and staff planning travel to any widespread affected area should closely review CDC recommendations regarding travel plans. Countries considered high-risk areas are updating at a quick pace. Use the CDCs website as a guide. If families or staff travel to an affected country, individuals should self-quarantine for 7 days upon return to the U.S. as recommended by the CDC.
What if we plan to travel during winter break?
What if I travel to a location that currently is not listed as an affected country, but is now?
If someone in HPISD is diagnosed with COVID-19, what are the district’s next steps?
What is HPISD doing to protect students and staff?
My child was sent home from school through the clinic displaying COVID-like symptoms. When can they return to school?
If your child is sent home from school through the clinic with COVID-like symptoms, they are assumed to be a positive case. The student may:
- Remain home from school for a minimum of ten (10) days.
- Return to school with a physician note documenting an alternative diagnosis and symptom-free for 24 hours without the use of fever-reducing medication.
- Return to school with a negative PCR COVID test and symptom-free for 24 hours without the use of fever-reducing medication.
Who should I notify if my child or someone in our family tests positive for COVID?
Please reach out to the school nurse at your child's school if anyone in your family tests positive. The school nurse will help you determine who is required to quarantine. Please also notify your school nurse if you have been informed by the Dallas County Health and Human Services Department that your child has been identified as a close contact. Your student will automatically be transitioned to remote learning for their quarantine period. Clinic staff will communicate with your student’s Principal and Attendance Secretary regarding your student's transition to remote learning and the date the student is expected to return to in-person learning.
My child had symptoms and took a rapid COVID test. Can they return to school if it is negative?
No, once tested, even if a rapid test was negative, they cannot return to school until they have a NEGATIVE PCR test. You should assume they are positive and isolate at home until you receive confirmation of a negative PCR test.
What is the process when a student tests positive?
Positive case reports can come from parents, students, employees, relatives, health care providers, or Dallas County Health and Human Services (DCHHS) Department. In the event of a positive report, the nurse will immediately contact the student’s parent/guardian to confirm the report and then immediately begin to conduct a contact tracing investigation related to in-person school activities. The student is told to isolate at home for a minimum of ten days. All family members are automatically close contacts and must quarantine for 10 days. The school nurses, administrators, and DCHHS will begin the contact tracing process. We look at seating charts in the classroom and lunchroom along with PE and extracurricular activities. Anyone who has had close contact in the previous 48 hours is potentially told to quarantine for 10 days.
When can my child return to school after a positive COVID test?
If a student is a confirmed COVID-19 positive case, they must isolate at home and are not permitted to return until ALL THREE of the following criteria are met:
- At least one day (24 hours) has passed since recovery (resolution of fever without the use of fever-reducing medications)
- The individual has improvement in symptoms (e.g., cough, shortness of breath)
- At least ten days have passed since symptoms first appeared or since a positive test if the student was asymptomatic.
What does it mean to be identified as a close contact?
Close contact is defined by the CDC and DCHHS as someone who was within 6 feet of an infected person for a cumulative total of 15 minutes (masked or unmasked) or for more than a 24-hour period starting from 2 days before illness onset (or, for asymptomatic patients, 2 days prior to a test specimen collection). Brief interactions, like walking by a person, are considered low risk and do not constitute close contact.
If your student is identified as a close-contact, they will be instructed to quarantine for 10 days. Quarantine for close contacts begins from the last contact and lasts through day 10. The 48-hour backward look for close contacts begins from the time the positive case became symptomatic or from the time they tested positive if they were asymptomatic. Your student will automatically be transitioned to remote learning for their quarantine period. Clinic staff will communicate with your student’s Principal and Attendance Secretary regarding your student's transition to remote learning and the date the student is expected to return. Close contacts are excluded from all in-person HPISD activities throughout the quarantine period.
How is contact tracing conducted?
The goal of each contact investigation is to identify individuals who came into close, prolonged contact with the positive case during the first 48-hours, which is when the positive case would have been most contagious. The district reviews seating charts in classrooms and the lunchroom along with PE and extracurricular activities to identify potential close contacts. After close contacts are identified, they are contacted individually by the school nurse with instructions to quarantine for up to 10 days from the date of the last contact. Quarantined individuals are excluded from all in-person HPISD activities throughout the quarantine period. Simultaneously, the HPISD Health Services department reports all cases to DCHHS as required, which may conduct its own contact tracing investigation to identify any close contacts outside of HPISD-specific activities (for example youth sports or social activities outside of school).
If my child is told to quarantine, can they return to school after a negative COVID test?
No. If your student is identified as close contact, they will need to quarantine the full 10 days. A person cannot test out of quarantine. The only exemption accepted is proof of a dated, positive PCR test within the last 90 days.
If someone in our family tests positive should they retest later?
The CDC specifically recommends against retesting as you could potentially continue to test positive for several weeks. Per the CDC, you should consider yourself non-contagious once a minimum of 10 days has passed, symptoms have significantly improved and you are fever-free without the use of fever-reducing medications. Some symptoms, such as loss of taste or smell may persist for several weeks.
What type of test does HPISD Health Services accept for a return to school after showing COVID-like symptoms?
Anyone tested for COVID should do so with a molecular PCR test. Some of the PCR tests are rapid and some may take several days depending on the test location.
What does self-quarantine mean?
Why am I not getting emails sent by the school district?