COVID-19 Decision Tree

Isolation Protocol

Confirmed COVID-19 positive:

Symptomatic: Isolation. Can be discontinued 10 days after onset of symptoms along with:

  • Afebrile for the last 24 hours of isolation, without fever-reducing medication.
  • Improvement of all symptoms.

Asymptomatic: Isolation.  Can be discontinued 10 days after the date of positive molecular test assured by the healthcare provider.

Written medical clearance to return to school for all confirmed COVID-19 positive cases.

Unvaccinated household members follow quarantine protocol. Excluded from school/work for 10 days from the date of last exposure to the positive COVID-19 individual. **

Symptoms consistent with COVID-19 with or without exposure:

  • Call your healthcare provider.
  • Return to school with written medical clearanceAND proof of a negative molecular test assured by the healthcare provider. Types of COVID19 Tests
  • Admittance before 24 hours will not be accepted.
  • Household members stay home while the test is pending.
  • Without testing, COVID-19 presumed positive. Stay home.  Follow “Isolation Protocol.”

** Household members may be required to stay home for 20 days.

Purely clinical alternative medical diagnoses without a negative test are no longer accepted.

Quarantine Protocol

10 or 7 Days:

  • Who needs to quarantine? Unvaccinated people who have been in close contact with someone who has COVID-19.
  • Stay home 10 days without testing OR for a full 7 days with negative test results collected at 5-7 days.
  • If symptoms develop while on quarantine, call your healthcare provider. Isolation protocol is initiated. Refer to “Isolation Protocol” for guidance. ** Rapid test not accepted when symptomatic. 

People who develop symptoms again within 3 months of their first bout of COVID-19 may need to be tested again if there is no other cause identified for their symptoms.


  • People who were positive for COVID-19 within the past 3 months (from date of positive molecular test) and remain symptom free.
  • Individuals who have been fully vaccinated are excluded from quarantine if asymptomatic.
  • To be excluded from quarantine based on immunity only a positive molecular test will be accepted up to 90 days from the positive result.

While a serum antibody test indicates previous infection, it does not provide when one had COVID-19.  As of now, the CDC and NJDOH only accept exemption for 90 days after a confirmed case of COVID+ based on molecular testing.

Travel Advisory

As of March 1, 2021 the Order of the Secretary of the Pennsylvania Department of Health for Mitigation Relating To Travel is no longer in effect. Travelers should still practice appropriate public health measures to slow the spread of COVID-19 such as masking, physical distancing, and hand hygiene.

COVID-19 vs Vaccine Reaction

Symptomatic for longer than 48 hours after COVID-19 vaccine?

  • Stay home.
  • Call your healthcare provider for further evaluation.
  • Household members may need to stay home if COVID-19 testing is required.

Return to school with written medical clearance. 

Glossary of Terms:

  • Close Contact (Exposure):Someone who was within 6 feet of an infected person for a cumulative total of 15 minutes or more over a 24-hour period starting from 2 days before illness onset (or, for asymptomatic patients, 2 days prior to test specimen collection) until the time the patient is isolated. At this time, differential determination of close contact for those using fabric face coverings is not recommended.
  • 1st Degree Exposure:Live with or have had recent close contact with someone COVID-19 positive; Quarantine is necessary.
  • 2nd Degree Exposure:Live with or have had recent close contact with someone who is considered a 1st degree exposure: This is considered low risk. In general, individuals in this situation should report to work/school. If you feel sick or later test positive, you should stay home.
  • Isolation keeps someone who is sick or tested positive for COVID-19 without symptoms away from others, even in their own home.
  • Quarantine keeps someone who was in close contact with someone who has COVID-19 away from others.
  • Essential Travel:Individuals traveling to and from the state for work. Individuals traveling to and from the state for medical reasons, including individuals providing comfort and support to a patient. Military personnel traveling to the state by order or directive of a state or Federal military authority. Individuals traveling to comply with a court order, such as child custody.
  • What to do if you’re waiting for COVID-19 test results: COVID-19 Testing Overview
  • Facts About COVID-19 Vaccines
  • PA COVID-19 Resources