When Can Your Child Stop Quarantining?
By Michelle Bailey, M.D.
As COVID-19 continues to inundate our society, there arises the question of when to start the countdown clock of quarantine. Let’s say mom gets sick with COVID-19 and stays at home as she is supposed to. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) guidelines state children should avoid physical contact with the sick parent.
For children staying in the home of a sick parent, the CDC recommends:
- Both parent and child (over age 2) should wear a mask while in the same room
- Wash your hands frequently for at least 20 seconds
- Try to stay six feet apart, if safe to do so
- Increase ventilation by opening a window
- Disinfect high touch surfaces (phones, remote controls, counters, table tops, doorknobs, bathroom fixtures, toilets, tablets, bedside tables, light switches) often
- Avoid sharing personal household items (dishes, cups, eating utensils, bedding, towels)
- Watch closely for any symptoms of COVID-19
Now let’s say dad has COVID-19, and his symptoms started seven days after mom became sick. What do you do about children returning to day care or school?
The CDC states anyone who has had close contact with someone with COVID-19 should stay home for 14 days after their last exposure to that person. What is not exactly specified is what to do if the COVID-19 positive parent and asymptomatic children are in constant contact in their own home. I recommend a safe watch and wait approach, practicing the above recommendations and if the child is still asymptomatic at the completion of 14 days after the parent’s 10 day isolation ended (which is a total of 24 days after the parent became ill or had a positive test), then they can resume day care and school attendance. The 14-day countdown would begin at the end of the most recent family member’s 10 day isolation period (in our scenario that would be dad’s). And as COVID-19 can slowly trickle through the household, this can be a month-long lockdown.
With any sick symptoms in your child following an exposure of COVID-19, they should see his or her pediatrician and get tested. If your child does test positive for COVID-19, they can be around others 10 days after symptoms first appeared, as long as their COVID-19 symptoms are improving and they have not had fever in 24 hours without the use of fever-reducing medications.
I’m a board-certified pediatrician, passionate about ensuring the well-being of patients ranging from newborn through late teens.
I attended medical school at the University of Oklahoma (Boomer!), and completed my pediatric residency in Houston.
Since the completion of residency I’ve worked in outpatient clinics and enjoy not only caring for my young patients, but becoming a part of every family by building long-lasting, trusting relationships. While I treat common and not-so-common childhood infections and diseases, I especially have a passion for asthma and allergies, nutrition, and ADHD along with other learning disorders.
I’m married and we have a rescue dog named Jack. When not at work, I enjoy attending cultural events and traveling. To make an appointment with Dr. Bailey, click here or call 682-303-1000.