Close Contact, Exposure & Quarantine Guidelines

  • What is exposure?

    Per guidelines from the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), exposure occurs if a person has been in close contact (within three ft (student) to six feet (adult)) for greater than or equal to 15 minutes with a person with COVID-19 over a 24-hour period.

    As of October 13, 2021, The South Carolina Department of Health and Environmental Control has updated its COVID-19 guidance for schools as well as its School and Childcare Exclusion List. The new guidance and exclusion criteria provide that students who were within 3 to 6 feet of an infected student and were wearing a face covering during the exposure time are excluded from the definition of a close contact and therefore do not have to quarantine regardless of whether or not the infected student was wearing a face covering. This exception does not apply to teachers, staff, or other adults in the indoor classroom setting. 

    Guidance Document: https://scdhec.gov/sites/default/files/media/document/2021.2022-School-Guidance-Booklet-10.12.21.pdf (update on page 13)


    What happens when a student is exposed to COVID-19?

    Once it is confirmed a student has been exposed to COVID-19, the following steps should take place.

    If the close contact has been fully vaccinated and is asymptomatic:
    A close contact does not have to quarantine, however it is recommended he/she:

    1. Wear a mask for ten days from the date of exposure.
    2. Socially distance to the greatest extent possible (for the same period of time).
    3. If he/she remains asymptomatic, he/she is not required to have a negative Covid test to return to work, however it is  recommended he/she gets one 7 days from the date of exposure to be safe. 
    4. If he/she becomes symptomatic, he/she  needs to notify the supervisor or school administrator immediately and he/she is  required to quarantine for 10 days from the date symptoms begin.  
    5. It is recommended that the close contact take a COVID test 3-5 days after the exposure regardless of vaccination status. 

    If he/she has been fully vaccinated, but is symptomatic:

    1. He/she is required to quarantine for 10 days.
    2. It is recommended that the close contact take a COVID test 3-5 days after the exposure regardless of vaccination status. 
    3. Current guidelines allow the 14 day quarantine to be shortened to 10 days. The employee/student may return to work/school on the 11th day with the signed staff or parent letter agreeing to daily temperature checks and required mask wearing from day 11 to day 14.  

    If he/she has NOT been fully vaccinated:

    1. He/she is required to quarantine beginning 10 days from the date of exposure.
    2. It is recommended that the close contact take a COVID test 3-5 days after the exposure regardless of vaccination status. 
    3. Current guidelines allow the 14 day quarantine to be shortened to 10 days. The employee/student may return to work/school on the 11th day with the signed staff or parent letter agreeing to daily temperature checks and required mask wearing from day 11 to day 14.

    Alternative 7-day quarantine option:

    Students who are defined as close contacts, and were not wearing a mask during the exposure period, will have to quarantine for 7 days and can return to school on day 8 under the following conditions:

    • Days 1-7, the student did not have any symptoms of COVID-19.
    • The student had a negative rapid or PCR viral COVID test no sooner than day 5.
    • Day 8, the parent must provide the school with the signed student letter and a copy of the negative test results.
    • Days 8-14, the student must wear a mask at all times and the parent will monitor the student daily for symptoms.

    Anyone considered a close contact will be asked the following questions:

    1. Have you been fully vaccinated? (Either the J&J, or both shots of Moderna or Pfizer) The staff member and/or the student does not have to respond to this question. 
    2. If yes, please provide verification of the completed vaccination card.
    3. Do you currently have any Covid symptoms?

    Contact tracing in combination with isolation and quarantine

    • BCSD will follow the SC DHEC requirements when reporting positive cases and contact tracing.
    • Students exhibiting COVID-19 symptoms will wait in a protective isolation area until picked up by a parent/guardian (within the hour). While in the isolation area the student will be asked to wear a mask covering nose and mouth per the SC DHEC guidelines.
    • BCSD will follow the most up to date quarantine and isolation guidelines as recommended by SC DHEC.
    • The principal and/or the school nurse will report all positive cases to the BCSD COVID-19 Dashboard/Database.  The  Nursing Services Coordinator will compile information from the COVID-19 Dashboard/Database and will forward to SC DHEC.
    • Students and staff will not be required to quarantine if they provide verification of vaccination. 

    Please be aware of the following COVID-19 symptoms

    The CDC reports people with COVID-19 have had a wide range of symptoms -- ranging from mild symptoms to severe illness. Symptoms may appear 2-14 days after exposure to the virus. Please watch for the following.

    • Fever or 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

CDC Coronavirus Self-Checker

Please understand that this tool was not created and is not managed by Berkeley County School District. It has been placed on this page as a resource that is also available and offered as a shared tool on the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) website.