Quarantine and Returning to School

This page offers quarantine guidance for students and staff who have been exposed to someone with COVID-19, but have no symptoms and have not tested positive for the illness.

If you have tested positive for COVID-19 regardless of symptoms, or have been exposed to COVID-19 and now have symptoms of illness, visit our page on isolation guidance instead.

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

If you have been exposed to someone with COVID-19

It can take up to 14 days from exposure to COVID-19 for an infection to develop. That’s why a 14-day quarantine is required after exposure to someone with COVID-19.

The best, safest thing you can do is stay home and monitor your health for 14 days. Remain at home, avoid gathering in groups, avoid public activities, and practice social distancing. If you MUST go out, be sure to wear a face mask.


When Can You Go Back to School?

If you have been notified by the school, by public health, or by a close contact that you have been exposed to COVID-19, you must quarantine at home for 14 days from the last day you were exposed.


I tested negative. Can I go back to school?

Even if you have no symptoms and test negative for COVID-19, you must still quarantine for 14 days. If you test too early, you may not have enough virus particles in your body to test positive even if you are infected. If you go back to school too early, you could unknowingly spread the virus to people around you.


When should I be tested for COVID-19?

It can be alarming to find out you’ve been exposed to someone with COVID-19, and your first instinct may be to get tested right away. But testing too early could give you a false negative result.

It is recommended that you get tested for COVID-19 at least once during your quarantine. If you have no symptoms, you should consider being tested 10 days after you were exposed to COVID-19Click here for information about free testing through your county health department.

What if I develop symptoms of illness?

You should obtain a test earlier in your quarantine if you experience any symptoms of COVID-19 (see below for a list of common symptoms). If you have had exposure to someone with COVID-19 and you begin having symptoms, you must follow isolation orders, which can be found in detail here. Even if you’ve already been in quarantine for several days, your isolation period begins with the first appearance of symptoms.

What if I test positive during my quarantine period?

If you test positive during quarantine, then you must follow isolation orders instead. Even if you’ve already been in quarantine for several days, your isolation period begins with the date your COVID-positive specimen was collected.

Remember, quarantine is for people who may become infected. If you test positive or if you’re having symptoms, then you need to follow the isolation guidance for people who are currently infected.

Review more return-to-school sample scenarios


Common symptoms of COVID-19

Common symptoms of COVID-19 include, but are not limited to:

  • Fever (measured temperature above 100.4 degrees Fahrenheit, or you feel feverish)
  • Chills
  • Cough
  • Shortness of breath or difficulty breathing
  • Fatigue
  • Muscle or body aches
  • Headache
  • New loss of taste or smell
  • Sore throat
  • Congestion or runny nose
  • Nausea or vomiting
  • Diarrhea

If you develop symptoms, follow the isolation guidance, get tested for COVID-19, and contact your doctor. If your symptoms are severe or you have a medical emergency, call 9-1-1.

Go back to the main School Guidance page