Frequently Asked Questions


The day of the test, the onset of symptoms, OR arrival to RI counts as DAY ZERO. The following day is DAY 1 of the quarantine or isolation. The first day out of quarantine is the day after you’ve counted out the total number of days.

Example: If you returned to RI today, Friday, January 8, from a trip to a state that is on RIDOH’s restricted travel list, and chose the 10-day quarantine option. You would start counting tomorrow, with Saturday, January 9 being DAY 1. Monday, January 18th would be DAY 10. You would be eligible to return on Tuesday, January 19th.



How long are students and staff required to quarantine after traveling to a state that is on Rhode Island’s high-risk list?

7 full days of quarantine with a negative PCR test taken on or after day 5. Return to school on the 8th day with negative test results. OR you may quarantine for 10 full days and return on the 11th day without a PCR test. (Testing is preferred)


How long are we required to quarantine after traveling internationally?

14 days. RI changed this requirement during the first week of February 2021, to match the quarantine for travel to high risk states. SMCDS has not reduced the international travel quarantine and requires 14 days with a negative PCR test taken on day 12 (11 is acceptable if you have concerns regarding the time to return results).


How long does SMCDS require individuals to quarantine/stay home when they are in close contact with someone who tested positive for COVID-19?

14 days, a negative PCR result taken on day 12 is required. A PCR test on day 5 is recommended to catch asymptomatic presentations early.


What if I, as a parent, need to travel out of state for work purposes?

Please let us know if you need to travel for work purposes. We ask that you follow RI guidelines for testing, that you monitor for symptoms and maintain social distance, wear a mask and take precautions upon your return home.



When is someone required to be in isolation?

You are required to isolate when you receive a positive Covid-19 test result.


How long is isolation?

You must isolate for 10 days (see above for how to count days) AND return to normal health. (20 days if you are immunocompromised)


What is isolation?

If you are isolating:

  • Do not leave your house

  • Remain segregated from everyone else in the household, mask, distance, separate bathroom if possible, no cooking, meals delivered to the door of a positive person, etc.

  • Household members are required to quarantine during the positive person’s isolation, PLUS 14 DAYS after the conclusion of the 10-day isolation (contagious) period is over.

  • YOU DO NOT RETEST IF POSITIVE; you are considered to have some immunity for 90 days and do not have to retest or quarantine due to exposure or travel in that time. (The count begins on day 1 of isolation.)

  • If you get symptoms during the 90 day immunity period – STAY HOME, contact your healthcare provider


If multiple people in a household have COVID 19, can a student, who is the first person off isolation, attend school while the rest of the household remains isolated?

Yes. We have confirmed with a clinical nurse investigator at RIDOH that if a person has completed their full isolation period and is no longer symptomatic per CDC guidelines, they are not considered contagious and may come to school even if multiple family members are still isolating in the home. A parent in isolation should NOT leave the house to drive their child to school.


What is Quarantine?

Process of separating and restricting the movement of individuals who were in close contact with someone who tested positive or had symptoms of COVID-19. Persons in quarantine should self-monitor for 14 days for symptoms and seek medical advice as needed. RIDOH recommends all close contacts of people with COVID-19 get tested on day 5 of quarantine or later. (RIDOH definition)

SMCDS requires a negative PCR test taken on day 12 of quarantine to return to school. (Day 11 is acceptable if there is a scheduling conflict). Day 5 testing is highly recommended to catch any asymptomatic positive results and initiate isolation earlier than day 12.



How do we re-enter school after isolating due to a positive COVID-19 test?

On the day of return, students must meet with the school nurse, Mrs. Buchanan, before heading into class. Parents arriving should go to the Rhode Island Avenue parking lot and call into the main office and Mrs. Buchanan will come out to get the student as soon as she can.


How do we re-enter school after quarantining?

Anyone who is required to quarantine should communicate directly (email or phone) with school nurse Mrs. Buchanan before returning to school to confirm dates.



If I’m a close contact, when do I test?

All close contacts must quarantine for 14 days and have tests on days 5 and 12. A negative PCR result from day 12 is required to return to in-person learning. These dates must be confirmed with the school nurse.

If the close contact becomes positive the household is quarantined through the positive person’s isolation period PLUS an additional 14 days. Testing is recommended on days 5 and 12.


What happens if I’m notified that I’m a close contact during the school day?

  • You are dismissed immediately

  • You may not attend after school activities.

  • You test 48 hours after dismissal from school (earlier if symptoms develop).

  • If the test is positive, contact tracing for classmates begins immediately

  • If negative, you take a PCR test again on day 12, with negative results your return to school on the 15 th day.


What if I’m a sibling of a close contact in school?

Beginning the first week of February, SMS policy has changed, and siblings of close contacts may continue to go to school.


What if my class is dismissed due to a COVID-19 positive case in the classroom?

You are considered a close (primary) contact.


When do I test if I am a close (primary) contact and how/when do I get back to school?

If symptoms arise, test as soon as possible.

Otherwise, do the following to return to school:

  1. First, schedule a test for day 5 after you were sent home to catch asymptomatic carriers early.

  2. Then, schedule a test for day 12 of the 14-day quarantine (SMCDS will provide the dates specific to any class quarantines via email)

  3. Return to school on day 15 following quarantine with a negative PCR result from a test taken on day 12 of the quarantine AND completion of the full 14 days of quarantine.


When do I need to get a test? And how do I schedule it?

See HERE for guidelines on when to get a test. SMCDS requires more testing than the state; if you are told by RIDOH that you do not need to test, please consult with Megan Buchanan and share any questions or concerns you may have.


Why does my healthy child have to stay home if a family member or sibling has certain symptoms, but not for all symptoms?

The State has determined that certain symptoms are more likely to be associated with COVID 19. These symptoms are called probable and are: new cough, shortness of breath or difficulty breathing, loss of taste and or smell. Or, any TWO of the following symptoms: fever or chills, headache, sore throat, nausea/vomiting, diarrhea, congestion or runny nose, body aches, fatigue. If someone develops probable symptoms, they must be tested and the household should remain home and quarantine until negative PCR results are returned. A positive rapid or PCR is considered a positive result and isolation and quarantine procedures must be followed.

If a person develops only one non-probable symptom, stay home and monitor for the development of any other symptoms. Siblings may come to school. If the ill person’s symptoms increase and they become probable, siblings need to be picked up from school immediately. The symptomatic person must be tested.


Why are siblings in the same household required to quarantine when they were not in direct contact with a person who tested positive for COVID 19?

As of the first week in February 2021, after review of past procedures and consultation with local experts, SMS no longer requires siblings living in the same household as close contacts to quarantine. If the person on quarantine becomes positive for COVID 19, then the sibling is a close contact and they will quarantine.


Why is an entire class dismissed if a person in the class is determined to be a close contact of a person who has tested positive for COVID 19?

As of the first week of February 2021, school contacts are not dismissed if a stable group member is notified of close contact status. The close contact is dismissed immediately to begin their 14 day quarantine.


What if we receive a negative PCR test result after we get a positive rapid test? Am I in the clear to return to school?

No. A positive test result is a positive test result. At this time there is no state-approved or recommended reversal of a positive rapid or PCR test. Per EdOC guidance during a video call on 1/26/21: if a person tests positive on a rapid test, receives a negative PCR that day, and the next day, it is still NOT enough to consider the rapid result invalid. There is discussion of the timing (this is the key element) of repeat PCRs to shorten or “reverse” the rapid positive result, but at this time, all isolation and quarantine protocols for a positive test result and contact tracing will be followed.


If I get a negative rapid result, and symptoms are resolving, why do I need to wait for PCR results?

The PCR is the stronger test, “the gold standard.” The PCR more accurately identifies a person who is a “true negative” and does not have COVID 19. The PCR measures virus in the body. It is entirely possible for a negative rapid result to return due to low viral load at the time of the test, and then be followed by a positive PCR when the samples were taken at the same time.


What if I decide, on my own, to get an asymptomatic test?

NEW: If you get an asymptomatic test (NO SYMPTOMS AT ALL) and receive a negative rapid result, then you do not have to wait for the PCR results (if one is running) to resume normal activities. If you have even ONE symptom when you test, you MUST wait for negative PCR results before returning to school.



What is considered “close contact”?

Being within 6 feet of a person who has tested positive for COVID 19, for a cumulative 15 minutes in 24 hours, during the 48 hours before taking the test or onset of symptoms.


Why don’t students who have tested positive get a test before returning to see if they are negative?

Once you test positive, you are considered positive. Re-testing is typically not done, as the virus often remains in the system (though not at contagious levels) for up to 90 days. An isolation period of 10 days and return to normal health is the recommendation for individuals with COVID-19 before they return to normal activity. (20 days for immunocompromised individuals.)


Why do I have to complete MyMedBot daily screening when my child is not in school?

This tool helps us to track any new onset of symptoms, testing, close contacts, and travel. The goal is to keep each other safe; to be able to return to school safely, and to remain in school.