Please refer to this helpful information about COVID-19 symptoms and what to do if your child is exposed to COVID-19.

If your child has tested positive for COVID-19, you probably have many questions. The following guidance from Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia (CHOP) and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) can help you navigate your child’s illness and avoid spreading the virus to others.

Don’t panic!

It’s normal to worry anytime your child is sick. But you can be reassured in the fact that COVID-19 is a mild infection in most otherwise healthy children, similar to a cold or mild flu, and the majority can recover at home. As you would with any respiratory virus, keep your child comfortable with plenty of fluids and over-the-counter pain medication, and monitor their symptoms.

If your child isn’t eating, drinking, breathing or acting normally, or has a high-risk condition or immunosuppression, please contact your child’s care team. In the unlikely event that your child shows any emergency warning signs, such as trouble breathing, seek medical care immediately.

If your child tests positive for COVID-19, they should stay home according to standard respiratory virus guidance to protect others in the community. Here's what the CDC recommends.

When you have a respiratory virus such as COVID-19 or the flu, stay home and away from others (including people you live with who are not sick). Consider being diligent about hand hygiene and using a mask to protect others in the home if possible.

Be cautious for five days after returning to normal activities

Once your child’s symptoms are improving and they’ve been fever-free for 24 hours, they may return to school and other public places. However, it is encouraged to take additional precautions for five more days to prevent further spread of the virus, such as wearing a well-fitting mask and washing hands frequently. They should continue to be cautious around those at risk of severe complications from COVID-19, such as immunocompromised relatives, individuals with complex medical conditions, and the elderly.

Additional testing to return to school isn’t necessary.

What do I do if my school district has different requirements to return to school?

Guidelines from your local health department or school district may differ. If that is the case, we recommend you follow local health guidance before returning to school. 

If my child tested positive, but I didn’t, can I leave the house?

If your child has tested positive for COVID-19, you are considered “exposed.” Monitor for symptoms in yourself and take extra precautions (like wearing a mask, washing hands frequently and avoiding close contact with others) when you’re engaging in your normal activities in case you do end up getting sick and don’t know it yet.  

Get vaccinated

The best way to keep your children and family safe from COVID-19 is to get vaccinated when you’re no longer sick. While getting sick with COVID-19 offers some protection from future illness, all currently available vaccines give most people a high level of protection against the virus. In fact, combined immunity from vaccines plus natural infection is better than immunity from natural infection alone, so be sure to stay up to date on your vaccines.

Stay in Touch

Are you looking for advice to keep your child healthy and happy? Do you have questions about common childhood illnesses and injuries? Subscribe to our Health Tips newsletter to receive health and wellness tips from the pediatric experts at Children's Hospital of Philadelphia, straight to your inbox. Read some recent tips.

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