Screening K-12 students for symptoms of COVID-19 : limitations and considerations
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Screening K-12 students for symptoms of COVID-19 : limitations and considerations

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      Updated July 23, 2020

      This document provides guidance to K-12 schools on COVID-19 symptom screening as part of a school reopening process. The guidance detailed here is intended only for students in K-12 school settings. The number of reported children with SARS-CoV-2 (the virus that causes COVID-19) infection who experience symptoms, the types of symptoms they experience, and the severity of those symptoms differs from adults. Additionally, the consequences of excluding students from essential educational and developmental experiences differ from excluding individuals from other settings. Therefore, the considerations described here are different than those for other settings and populations. For guidance related to screening of teachers and staff, please refer to CDC’s Interim Guidance for Businesses and Employers Responding to Coronavirus Disease 2019 and the “Prevent Transmission Among Employees” section of CDC’s Resuming Business Toolkit.

      We learn more about COVID-19 every day, and as more information becomes available, CDC will continue to update and share information. As our knowledge and understanding of COVID-19 evolves, this guidance may change. However, based on the best available evidence at this time:

      • CDC does not currently recommend universal symptom screenings (screening all students grades K-12) be conducted by schools.

      • Parents or caregivers should be strongly encouraged to monitor their children for signs of infectious illness every day.

      • Students who are sick should not attend school in-person.

      COVID-19 is a newly identified disease caused by the virus, SARS-CoV-2. Scientists are still learning about how it spreads, how it impacts children, and what role children may play in its spread. Limited data about COVID-19 in children suggest that children are less likely to get COVID-19 than adults, and if they do contract COVID-19, they generally have less serious illness than adults. While uncommon, deaths and rare illness such as multisystem inflammatory syndrome in children (MIS-C) may still occur.

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