Isolation and Quarantine Guidance

This guidance applies to K-12 schools and child care, as well as the general population, and supersedes any prior guidance. This guidance does not supersede any directions or orders issued by Montgomery County Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS).

The following populations should continue to follow setting and profession specific recommendations as well as other applicable state and federal orders and regulations:

Learn about  COVID-19 treatment options

Freqently Asked Questions

Do I need to wear a mask during isolation or quarantine?

During periods of isolation or quarantine, unmasked time should be minimized, and physical distancing and ventilation should be maximized whenever you are around others. You should avoid participating in any unmasked activities with others (including eating and drinking). It is strongly encouraged that everyone wears size appropriate (child or adult size) well-fitting masks, such as KN95 masks.

What does “fully vaccinated and boosted” mean?

  • Persons 5-11 years old who have completed the primary series of Pfizer,
  • Persons 12 years and older who have completed the primary series of vaccinations and have been boosted,
  • Persons 12 years and older who have completed the primary series of Pfizer within the last 5 months,
  • Persons 18 years and older who completed the primary series of Moderna within the last 5 months, or
  • Persons 18 years and older who completed the primary series of J&J within the last 2 months.

What does “high risk” mean?

Individuals who are more susceptible to complications from COVID. Individuals at high risk for COVID-19 include those 65 and older and people of any age with certain medical conditions. Please see the CDC’s full list of high risk medical conditions.

What type of COVID-19 tests should I take?

There are two diagnostic tests for COVID-19 include molecular (RT-PCR, sometimes just called PCR) and viral antigen tests. Antibody tests are not recommended to identify a current COVID-19 infection. See more information on different types of diagnostic tests on the CDC website.

Self-testing, using over the counter or home rapid tests, if positive, maybe used as indication of current infection. If a rapid home test is used, it should be used as directed, including a repeat test, and may need to be confirmed with a molecular (PCR) test.

What are the symptoms of COVID-19?

Symptoms of COVID-19 include: fever or chills, cough (either new or different than usual), 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, or diarrhea. Watch for fever, which means feeling feverish or having a measured temperature of 100.4 degrees F or higher. If you take fever-reducing medication such as ibuprofen, wait 6 hours after taking your last dose before taking your temperature.  Learn more about symptoms on the CDC website.

What is a close contact?

A close contact of someone with COVID-19 (or suspected of having COVID-19) includes, but is not necessarily limited to, being within 6 feet of infected persons for a cumulative total of 15 minutes or more over a 24-hour period (e.g., three 5-minute exposures for a total of 15 minutes). For more information, see the revised CDC guidance on close contact.

Can I “test-out” of isolation?

No. DHHS follows the CDC’s current guidance, which is based on a time and symptom-based return from a COVID-19 infection.

Are there times when children who have returned to school or childcare after 5 days from quarantine or isolation may remove masks?

Yes. Masks may be removed only when eating and during naptime. Unmasked time should be minimized and physical distancing and ventilation maximized during these times. People should not be participating in any other activities unmasked. The CDC recommends that Early Care and Education programs should separate children’s naptime mats or cribs and place them so that children are head to toe for sleeping with as much distance as possible between mats, ideally at least 6 feet apart. Layer additional strategies, such as improved ventilation, if possible. Masks should not be worn when sleeping, even by children who are within the 5-day period after returning from quarantine or isolation.

Can schools or childcare providers choose to implement the modified quarantine option Test To Stay as outlined in the Maryland Department of Health March 2, 2022, K-12 School and Child Care COVID-19 Guidance (PDF)?

Yes, provided these organizations have the resources and can meet the guidance. Key guidance from the Maryland Department of Health includes:

  • both the infected student and exposed student(s) were correctly and consistently wearing well-fitting masks for all exposures;
  • exposed students are tested daily for at least 5 days (or a reasonable alternative such as days 1, 3, 5, and 7) following exposure and remain asymptomatic;
  • the exposed student(s) should continue to wear a mask for at least 10 days following exposure when in school settings;
  • schools should ensure that testing can be done on-site.
MDH recommends that this option may also be considered in child care programs when all of the children are age 5 years and above and all of the conditions described above can be met. Child care providers and schools may also develop other prevention protocols which can draw from public health guidance and work with their available resources.

Are children under 2 years of age recommended to return earlier than 10 days to a child care setting from isolation or quarantine?

Because children under 2 are not recommended to wear a mask, the CDC currently advises that the safest option is to continue to quarantine or isolation guidance, as applicable, for a full 10 days.

Additional resources