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COVID-19 SYMPTOMS SCREENING IN SCHOOLS & COLLEGES


For schools & colleges that choose to implement on-site symptom screenings, consider the following:

  • Consider the scientific evidence outlined by your countries health authority and weigh the risks & benefits to students, staff, and the larger community.

  • Consider how school policies regarding symptom screenings can balance the resources required and feasibility of implementation and the risk of transmission in schools.

  • Consider ways to reduce the likelihood of excluding students who do not have COVID-19 from essential instructional and critical developmental experiences.

  • Before sharing personally identifiable information on students concerning COVID-19, consider Federal, state, and local requirements.

Schools should also understand what symptom screening does and does not do. When implemented, the purpose of symptom screening is to identify individuals who may have COVID-19 and exclude those individuals from a setting to reduce the risk of transmission to others. Symptom screening does not assess whether it is safe for an individual student to attend school or whether a student has an increased risk for severe illness if they develop COVID-19. Symptom screenings also does not provide enough information to diagnose someone with COVID-19.

There is not a single symptom that is uniquely predictive of a COVID-19 diagnosis. A COVID-19 viral test is needed to confirm if someone has a current infection. Schools may already have illness management criteria in place for school admittance; this is an opportunity to review that criteria and consider recommending stricter adherence to their existing illness management criteria.

Home symptom screenings rely on students and their parents, guardians, or caregivers initially identifying when the student may have signs and symptoms of illness and to take action (such as staying home). This process can also be followed by school staff by monitoring children for overt symptoms of any infectious illness that may develop during the school day and helping the student and family take needed actions.

It is essential for schools & colleges to reinforce to students, parents or caregivers, and staff the importance of students staying home when sick until at least 24 hours after they no longer have a fever or signs of a fever (chills, feeling very warm, flushed appearance, or sweating) without the use of fever-reducing medicine. Policies that encourage and support staying home when sick will help prevent the transmission of SARS-CoV-2 (and other illnesses including flu) and help keep schools open.


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