New Quarantine Guidelines for Cases of COVID-19 and Close Contact Exposure


Bridget Nelis

The divided resting room in the nurse’s office to separate students with COVID-19 symptoms from others.

Bridget Nelis, Editor-in-Chief

While this school year has less restrictions for COVID-19, some restrictions are still in place. Quarantine restrictions are still in effect for both students who have contracted COVID-19 and students who are deemed to be in close contact with someone with COVID-19.

On Aug. 19, the Kane County Health Department published new rules regarding the quarantining of students and staff who are exposed to COVID. Students and staff with a positive COVID-19 result or students and staff exposed to an individual with a positive COVID-19 test are reported to the Kane County Health Department. The Kane County Health Department decides who will be quarantined and for how long. District 303 has no part in the decision.

However, there are ways to be exempt from quarantine when considered a close contact. Kane County Health Department considers a close contact being within approximately 6 feet of an individual with COVID for at least 15 minutes over a 24-hour period. That does not include in a classroom setting where both students correctly used masks and other school mitigation measures are in place.

If a student is determined to be a close contact, if they’re vaccinated, they do not have to quarantine. If they are not vaccinated, then they have to quarantine,” said Amy Boynton, school nurse. 

To be exempt from quarantine because of your vaccination status, you must provide proof of vaccination when determined to be a close contact.

Another way to avoid quarantine after a close contact is to be involved in the SHIELD saliva testing program. SHIELD testing occurs at least once a week in a student’s home school during the school day. However, if an individual is deemed a close contact and previously involved in the SHIELD program, they can test on days one, three, five and seven after exposure. If they continue to test negative, they do not have to quarantine.

However, individuals are not allowed to sign up for the SHIELD program after a close contact to avoid quarantine. 

Individuals who are not vaccinated or involved in the SHIELD program will be required to quarantine if considered a close contact. The length of the quarantine can vary though. However, District 303 does not decide how long a quarantine will be. 

“We have to follow the rules that the Kane County Health Department sets forth for us,” says Boynton.

Quarantine can last either 14 calendar days, 10 calendar days which can end after day 10 if no symptoms of COVID are observed or seven calendar days if no symptoms of COVID have developed and the individual provides a negative COVID-19 test.

There are also steps in place at school to separate students presenting COVID symptoms and other students in the nurse’s office to avoid close contacts. There are partitions between cots in the nurse’s office and separate rooms for possible COVID cases.

“I would try never to put somebody who I thought had COVID symptoms in with another student. I might keep another student [in the waiting room], but if a student came in, and they were coughing, I would probably move them directly to that room rather than let them expose the next 10 people that walk through the door,” says Boynton.

To return to school after presenting COVID-19 symptoms, students have to show a negative COVID-19 test.

Overall, Boynton says the easiest way to avoid quarantine is to get vaccinated.

“I would just encourage everybody who can get vaccinated to get vaccinated,” says Boynton.

Students older than 16 are eligible for the COVID-19 vaccine. Students can receive vaccines at Walgreens, CVS, and many local grocery store pharmacies.