Cold, influenza and COVID-19 symptoms can be similar. Regardless, keeping the child home that is showing symptoms is a good way to reduce the spread of colds and flu within schools.
As for others in your household, if your child is showing symptoms, it is important to evaluate your child’s symptoms and possible exposures to COVID-19 when deciding whether other children in your household should stay home. Marin Public Health has developed the following decision trees to guide parents:
- COVID-19 Safety Decision Tree for Schools - 2021-22 School Year (Vaccinated) (UNvaccinated)
- Decision Tree for COVID-19 Symptoms (in all settings)
- Decision Tree for Exposures to COVID-19 in Child Care, Youth Activities, and Households/Communities (not TK-12 schools)
In outdoor settings, unvaccinated children and youth do not need to wear a mask, even if they cannot maintain physical distancing. However, per CDC recommendations, people who are not fully vaccinated are encouraged to wear a mask in crowded outdoor settings or during activities that involve sustained close contact (including high-risk contact sports) with other people who are not fully vaccinated.
In indoor youth settings (including K-12 Schools, childcare and other youth settings), everyone must wear a mask, regardless of vaccination status. This is especially important for children age 2 through 11 who are currently in eligible for vaccines and are therefore "unvaccinated." See the State of California's guidance on face coverings for more information.
The California Department of Public Health (CDPH) is closely monitoring anticipated updates from the CDC regarding K-12 and other youth settings and will update recommendations at that time.
Fever free for 24 hours and with improving symptoms.
**This guidance is for the general population, for school staff and students Follow the guidance of your doctor which may be specific to your individual health needs. In general, if you have symptoms, stay at home until you are fever free for at least 24 hours (without the aid of fever reducing medication) and 10 days after your symptoms have resolved.**
People may be sick infected with the virus for 1 to 14 days before developing symptoms. The most common symptoms of COVID-19 are:
- dry cough
- shortness of breath
Most people (about 80%) recover from the disease without needing special treatment. However, if you develop emergency warning signs for COVID-19 get medical attention immediately. Emergency warning signs include*:
- Trouble breathing
- Persistent pain or pressure in the chest
- New confusion or inability to arouse
- Bluish lips or face
*This list is not all inclusive. Please consult your medical provider for any other symptoms that are severe or concerning.
Testing starts with your medical provider. Anyone experiencing symptoms consistent with COVID-19 should immediately call their medical provider and seek testing.
Your medical provider will want to test for possible conditions such as flu, strep, or pneumonia. If your doctor believes you are a candidate for testing, they will refer you to either Marin Public Health or a suitable test center to conduct the testing.
Marin County Public Health also recommends testing for some groups, even if they do not have symptoms, including:
- All persons who were notified that they were exposed to someone who was confirmed to have COVID-19; and
- All persons who were notified by Marin Public Health as being high risk based on outbreak investigations; and
- All essential public and private sector workers (cities and town workers included); and
- Certain occupations with higher risk of exposures, including some healthcare workers and first responders. Testing for these individuals is arranged through their employer.
Also, make sure to review our Isolation and Quarantine page for safety information on what to do while you wait for your test results.
Learn more about COVID-19 testing in Marin County by visiting our Testing Information webpage.
If you test positive for COVID-19 and have symptoms, you may discontinue isolation if the following conditions are met:
- at minimum, the last 24 hours have passed without fever (without the use of fever-reducing medication) AND
- improvement in respiratory symptoms (like cough, shortness of breath) AND
- at least 10 days have passed since the symptoms first appeared
If you have no symptoms but are COVID-19 positive, you may discontinue isolation once 10 days have passed since the date of your first positive test, if you remain symptom-free.
Please read Marin County’s At Home Quarantine & Isolation Safety guidance document for important information and practical tips.
Source: Marin HHS
As defined by the CDC, a Person Under Investigation (PUI) is any person currently under investigation for having the virus that causes COVID-19. A Person Under Investigation should be directed to COVID testing and quarantine under the guidance of their health care professional or Marin Public Health.
Source: CDC, Marin HHS
Many providers, such as CVS and Walgreens, provide testing for free or a small fee.
For more information or locations, visit our Testing page for more information.
- See if you’re eligible for Medi-Cal.
- See if you’re eligible for Covered California.
- See if you are eligible for care at a Federally Qualified Healthcare Center.
If you think you have had an exposure to COVID-19, you should wait 4-5 days from day of exposure prior to getting tested. As defined by the CDC "The incubation period for COVID-19 is thought to extend to 14 days, with a median time of 4-5 days from exposure to symptoms onset. One study reported that 97.5% of persons with COVID-19 who develop symptoms will do so within 11.5 days of SARS-CoV-2 infection."
Yes, you should be vaccinated regardless of whether you already had COVID-19. That’s because experts do not yet know how long you are protected from getting sick again after recovering from COVID-19. Even if you have already recovered from COVID-19, it is possible—although rare—that you could be infected with the virus that causes COVID-19 again. Learn more about why getting vaccinated is a safer way to build protection than getting infected.
Learn more about the COVID-19 Vaccine in Marin County on our vaccine information webpage.
It typically takes a few weeks for the body to build protection against the virus following vaccination. The CDC defines an individual as fully vaccinated if they have met the following:
- 2 weeks after their second dose in a 2-dose series, such as the Pfizer or Moderna vaccines, or
- 2 weeks after a single-dose vaccine, such as Johnson & Johnson’s Janssen vaccine
If you don’t meet these requirements, you are NOT fully vaccinated. If you are NOT fully vaccinated then yes, you still need to quarantine. Keep taking all precautions until you are fully vaccinated.
If you ARE fully vaccinated the CDC recommends the following:
If you’ve been around someone who has COVID-19, you do not need to stay away from others or get tested unless you have symptoms.
- However, if you live in a group setting (like a correctional or detention facility or group home) and are around someone who has COVID-19, you should still stay away from others for 14 days and get tested, even if you don’t have symptoms.
On August 2, 2021, Marin County joined Alameda, Contra Costa, San Francisco, San Mateo, Santa Clara, Sonoma, and the City of Berkeley in issuing Health Orders requiring masks indoors by all people -- vaccinated or unvaccinated -- out of an abundance of caution due to a rising number of COVID-19 cases.
Masks are not required outdoors, but are strongly recommended in crowded environments.
- California also requires that everyone wear masks in:
- Public transit
- Long-term care facilities
- Homeless shelters
- Indoors in K-12 schools, childcare, and other youth settings
See our Public Health Order for the Wearing of Face Coverings in Workplaces and Public Settings to learn more about where masks are still required or recommended.
Read Get the Most out of Masking to learn how a mask can best protect you.
On August 2, 2021, Marin County joined Alameda, Contra Costa, San Francisco, San Mateo, Santa Clara, Sonoma, and the City of Berkeley in issuing Health Orders requiring masks indoors by all people -- vaccinated or unvaccinated -- out of an abundance of caution due to a rising number of COVID-19 cases. This Order requires all individuals to wear face coverings when indoors in workplaces and public settings, with limited exemptions, and recommends that businesses make face coverings available to individuals entering the business.
For information around:
- vaccine verification/negative testing
- capacity limitations
- physical distancing
- and exceptions to mega event guidance
Please visit the California Department of Public Health's website:
At this time, researchers do not know whether the presence of antibodies means that you are immune to COVID-19; or if you are immune, how long it will last. In people who have received a COVID-19 vaccination, antibody testing is not recommended to determine whether you are immune or protected from COVID-19.