Contact Tracing (Quarantine & Isolation)

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Contact Tracing is the process of identifying individuals who are considered close contacts to someone with a positive or probable case of COVID-19.  During the investigation, the school administration and school Health Clinic will confirm the report of a positive diagnosis, identify students and employees who meet the close contact definition, and contact the close contacts to inform them of their exposure.

If more than half a class is in quarantine or isolation because of an exposure or positive/probable diagnosis, the entire class will transition to remote learning. For middle and high school, that particular course will be taught remotely and the remainder of a student’s courses would be provided as asynchronous work.

More information on instruction during quarantine

Close Contact

A close contact is identified as a student within the classroom setting that meets any of the following criteria:

  • Within 3 feet of another masked student
  • Within 6 feet of another student who has a mask exemption
  • Within 6 feet of an adult regardless of mask usage
  • Within 6 feet of another student outside the classroom regardless of mask usage

 Positive Case

A positive case is an individual who has been instructed by a health care provider that they have COVID-19 or has received laboratory results indicating that they have tested positive for COVID-19 (regardless of vaccination status). 

Probable Case

A probable case is an individual who has had a close contact exposure, regardless of vaccination status, and has developed symptoms within the 14 days of that exposure.


Quarantine happens when an individual has been identified as a close contact, has no symptoms and should be excluded from attending in-person instruction and activities.  The CDC recommends that all individuals identified a close contact quarantine for 14 days. Arlington Public Schools has opted to accept a negative PCR test that is administered at least after day 5 from the date of last exposure with the earliest return of day eight.  For example, a student who was last exposed on a Monday would be required to quarantine and then have a PCR test on Saturday. If the test is negative, the student would be released from quarantine. If a student opts for a shortened quarantine time, they will still be encouraged and requested to participate in active monitoring with the health department until the full 14 days have been achieved.

Students who are vaccinated (and vaccination can be verified during the contact tracing process by the school and school health officials) is not subject to a quarantine. 


Isolation is what happens during quarantine.  Isolation means that the individual should completely remove themselves from all contact with other people, to the extent possible (e.g., living in a separate space) for a minimum of 10 days.  After 10 days an individual may discontinue isolation if their symptoms have improved and they have not had a fever for the last 24 hours. If a student’s symptoms have not improved and they are not fever free for at least 24 hours prior to the end of their 10 day period, they should consult their primary healthcare provider or reach out to the clinic for a referral to a primary healthcare provider.