Isolation & Returning to School

This page offers isolation guidance for students and staff who have tested positive for COVID-19 regardless of symptoms, or have been exposed to COVID-19 and now have symptoms of illness.

If you have been exposed but have not tested positive and have no symptoms, visit our page on quarantine guidance instead.

>> For additional details, download the Georgia Department of Public Health’s official return-to-school guidance document.

Self-Isolation

If you test positive for COVID-19 infection, self-isolation is more than just a good idea – it’s the law. Even if you feel fine, you must stay home to avoid spreading the virus to other people.

Likewise, if you have been exposed to someone with a known COVID-19 infection and you start feeling sick, you should get tested and follow these isolation rules while you wait for your test results.

Take these steps:

  • Take care of yourself. Get rest and stay hydrated. Contact your doctor if you have concerns or if your symptoms worsen.
  • Notify contacts. Contact your school and let them know about your positive test result. Work with your school to identify and notify close contacts. A close contact is anyone who was recently within 6 feet of you for at least 15 minutes.
  • Monitor your symptoms. The most common symptoms of COVID-19 are fever, cough, and/or shortness of breath, although many other symptoms are also possible. If you develop worsening symptoms or have difficulty breathing, you should get medical care right away. If you have a medical emergency, call 911.
  • Separate yourself from others. While you isolate at home, keep 6 feet between yourself and other people, use a bathroom no one else uses, and don’t allow visitors into your home. Wear a face covering around other people, and frequently clean “high touch” surfaces like doorknobs, counters, tabletops, tables, phones, and TV remotes.

When Can You Go Back to School?

The timing of your return to school will depend on several factors, including if you had symptoms, and if your symptoms have improved.

I had no symptoms.

If you tested positive for COVID-19 but had no symptoms, you can return to school 10 days after your specimen was collected for testing. Even if you get re-tested during those 10 days and test negative, you must stay in isolation for the full 10 days.


I had mild/moderate symptoms.

If you had symptoms but they were not severe, you can return to school 10 days after your symptoms first appeared, but only if your symptoms have improved. Also, you must be fever-free for at least 24 hours without using fever-reducing medicine.


I had severe symptoms and/or I am severely immunocompromised.

If you had severe to critical illness (if you were hospitalized for shortness of breath, pneumonia, low oxygen levels, respiratory failure, septic shock, and/or multiple organ failure) or are severely immunocompromised, you must remain under home isolation for at least 20 days since your symptoms first appeared. You can return to school after 20 days, but only if your symptoms have improved and you’ve been fever-free for at least 24 hours without using fever-reducing medicine.

Review more return-to-school sample scenarios


Get More Information

The Georgia Department of Public Health has more information about self-isolation on its website at https://dph.georgia.gov/isolation-contact.

You can also share quarantine information with your close contacts from this web page: https://dph.georgia.gov/contact

Go back to the main School Guidance page