COVID-19: Isolation and Precautions in Early Care and Education (ECE) Programs

Quick Guide: Isolation

What to do when a child in your early care and education (ECE) program might have COVID-19.

Child is sick with symptoms consistent with COVID-19 or has a positive COVID-19 test.

DAYS 1–5
Child stays home and isolates away from other people to the extent possible.

Is the child fever-free for 24 hours without the use of fever-reducing medication?


Is the child free of symptoms or have symptoms improved?


Is the child 2 years of age or older and able to consistently wear a mask in the ECE program? OR Did the child have two negative antigen tests 48 hours apart?

DAYS 6–10
It is safest to continue isolation until the end of day 10 [ 1 ].

  • For children who have symptoms, continue isolation until the child is fever-free for 24 hours without the use of fever-reducing medication and other symptoms have improved.
  • If ECE is using a test-based strategy, a child who has two negative antigen tests 48 hours apart can return to the ECE program without needing to wear a mask.

Return to the ECE program. For children who were severely ill, or whose fever persists past day 10, or who continue to test positive using an antigen test, consult a healthcare professional before returning to the ECE program.

Returning to the ECE Program

Children returning from isolation should wear a high-quality mask around others through day 10. If the ECE program is using a test-based strategy, children who have two negative antigen tests 48 hours apart after ending isolation may remove their mask sooner than day 10. Whenever possible, keep distance between children who are returning from isolation before day 11 and others, especially people who are more likely to get very sick from COVID-19.

[ 1 ] For program administrators: When you determine isolation policies, you should consider multiple factors: The impact of the loss of access to education and care on the well-being of children and families, COVID-19 Community Levels, presence of other people who are at high risk for severe illness, and the ability to use additional prevention strategies.