Student Illness & COVID

  Illness at SchoolIllness at Home  |  Returning to School after Illness  |  Classroom Response  |  COVID Testing

Illnesses at School

If a student becomes ill during the school day, APS follows protocols developed with the Arlington County Public Health Department. Students demonstrating any of the following symptoms will be sent home from school:

  • Fever (100.4 or greater)
  • Chills
  • Cough
  • Shortness of breath
  • Loss of taste/smell
  • Sore throat
  • Fatigue
  • Muscle aches
  • Runny Nose/Congestion
  • Stomachache
  • Diarrhea
  • Nausea/Vomiting
  • Headaches

The parent/guardian will be notified, and the student will need to return home. Each illness will be handled individually in accordance with the ACPHD established COVID and contact tracing protocols. APS will follow established guidelines for communicating information to parents/guardians. For more information visit

School Health Clinics and Isolation Rooms

Isolation Rooms
Each school will have a designated Isolation Room to allow for students who exhibit COVID-19-like symptoms or any signs of illness while in school to be monitored in a separate area from other staff and students until student is picked up. If a student has a medical complaint while in the classroom, staff will contact the Health Clinic by phone for recommendations and phone evaluation. If student is showing signs of illness, they will be escorted by an APS staff member to the Isolation Room and monitored by APS school staff until pick-up

School Clinics
Health Clinics will be staffed by School Health staff and will provide the following services for students: medication administration, evaluation and first aid for injuries, care of chronic conditions (such as diabetes and seizures), and scheduled assessments (such as hearing and vision). All clinic visits will be coordinated between School Health staff and teacher/APS staff prior to student arrival. To reduce exposure and transmission risks, no walk-in visits will be accepted, other than emergencies. Minor ailments such as cuts and scratches will be cared for in the classroom with telephone support from the Health Clinic to reduce risk of unnecessary exposure.

For more information on the School Health Program and on COVID-19, please visit the School Health website.

Illnesses at Home

The Daily Symptom Screener is intended to help parents plan, and to ensure students do not come to school if they are sick. No students with fever or other signs of illness noted in the screener should attend school in person. Parents need to contact the school and report the reason for their child’s absence and follow specific steps as outlined below and as will be communicated by School Health for their child to be cleared to return.

Returning to School After COVID or COVID-Like Illness

Families will receive written guidance in the form of an exclusion letter from the APS as to what clearance is needed for a student to return to in-person learning. This is based on current recommendations from CDC and VDH with input from School Health. Families can contact their school health staff for further clarification on how symptoms and other individual factors will affect their timeline for return.

Students who are showing signs of COVID-like illness with no known exposure to someone with COVID-19 may return to school when: 

  • A healthcare provider has seen the student and documented a reason for the symptoms other than COVID-19 and has provided written documentation of clearance to return to school OR
  • A negative PCR COVID-19 test result has been received and submitted to the school and the student has been symptom free for at least 24 hours without fever-reducing medication
  • Student with symptoms who does not see a provider or receive a COVID-19 test of alternate clearance for a known condition should isolate at home and will be cleared for return to school 10 days after start of symptoms and at least 24 hours symptom free without fever-reducing medication

Students with a confirmed exposure (“close contact” to a probable or confirmed person with Covid-19): (An exposure is defined as contact within 6 feet of a confirmed or suspected COVID-19 infected person for a cumulative period of 15 minutes or more in a 24-hour period)

  • Student who is a close contact should quarantine at home and will be excluded for 14 days from last exposure to positive or suspected COVID-19 case
  • Even if a student is cleared from Active Monitoring in accordance with shortened CDC quarantine recommendations (7 or 10 days), exclusion from APS in-person learning and activities will remain 14 days based on the CDC recommendation for full quarantine and isolation.
  • For continuous exposures in the home, student’s quarantine period will not begin until the COVID-19 positive individual has ended their infectious period
  • If the exposed student develops symptoms during the quarantine period, they will be treated as a suspected positive case and should seek further testing and assessment from their medical provider and inform the school clinic.

Classroom Response

Individual or Single Classroom COVID Case  

With one confirmed case of COVID in a classroom, the classroom will transition to full-time distance learning for up to 14 days from the date of onset. APS will initiate the contact tracing process during this time. School staff, students and additional staff, such as transportation staff and related services providers, that are identified by APS/Qualtrics will be transitioned to distance learning or teleworking. These individuals will receive notification from APS regarding the transition to virtual.  The staff and families of students in that classroom will also be notified by APS that their student was in close contact with a suspected or positive COVID-19 case. Upon the conclusion of contact tracing, and cleaning and disinfecting have been performed, students and staff will be notified by APS as to when they will return to in-person learning.

Multiple Cases 

APS will work closely with ACPHD to decide whether or not an entire school will be required to transition to full-time distance learning based on contact tracing. The community will receive immediate communication of an outbreak and all students would be transitioned to distance learning for a period of time IF there are determined to be multiple linked cases. A follow up communication from APS will go out to the staff and community when in-person learning may resume.

Staff Health and Safety and Capacity Monitoring 

Widespread illness in school impacts our ability to maintain operations. APS has a pool of substitutes who can be called to assist; however, when there are higher numbers of staff unable to report to work due to COVID-19 symptoms or they have been directed to quarantine as a result of contact tracing, schools may be temporarily unable to offer in-person instruction for a period of time. When this occurs, APS will communicate with families as soon as possible regarding the need to transition to distance learning.

COVID-19 Testing

APS, in collaboration with Arlington County Government, has established a relationship with ResourcePath, a CLIA laboratory, for symptomatic COVID-19 testing in schools and offices.  More information