My child was exposed to COVID-19 at school. Now what?
How does the testing process work?
So you’ve gotten that dreaded call from your child’s school that he or she may have been exposed to COVID-19, and now has to quarantine for 10 days. What should you do next? Hint: testing!
When should your child get tested?
We know your first instinct is to rush out and get your child tested for COVID-19 right away, but it’s best for you to wait. When it comes to potential exposure, the CDC recommends all unvaccinated people quarantine immediately and wait five to seven days from exposure to get tested.
Waiting may be difficult, but if your child has indeed been infected by COVID-19, it may not show up on a PCR or antigen test in the first 48-72 hours. Testing too early can give you a false sense of security from a “negative” result. Waiting will give the virus time to develop, which will make your test results more reliable.
If your child meets Covid-19 vaccine age requirements and is fully vaccinated, the CDC still recommends getting tested 3-5 days after exposure.
What kind of test should your child take?
Check with your child’s school to see what tests are required and what the quarantine policy is. Many schools require a negative PCR test before students can return. Health experts consider the PCR viral test to be the “gold standard” for COVID-19 testing, whether you are or aren’t symptomatic. The standard Covid-19 PCR viral test uses a nasal or throat swab to detect a current infection of COVID-19 in the body. You’ll typically get results in two to four business days.
There are two types of rapid antgen tests for Covid-19. These may be useful if your child is showing symptoms and you need urgent results, but there is still a higher chance of receiving a false-negative than with the standard PCR viral test. Rapid tests are best used at least 48 hours after exposure.
• A rapid antigen viral test looks for antigens, a maker of the Covid-19 virus itself. This makes it extremely unlikely to give a false-positive result, but slightly more likely to give false-negative ones, when compared to a standard PCR test. After using a shallow swab to collect a sample from the nose, results typically come within 24 hours or less.
• A rapid PCR viral test looks for a current infection of COVID-19, using a shallow swab to collect a sample from the nose. Results typically come in just a few hours.
Where should you take your child for testing?
You can look around for free Covid-19 testing sites in your area. Just be prepared for long wait times at many of those free testing sites.
If you want a guaranteed appointment at a private lab with results you can trust, click here to find the ARCpoint Labs location nearest you offering Covid-19 testing, and make an appointment.
For more information COVID-19 Testing at ARCpoint Labs, visit our FAQ page.