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My child doesn't feel well. Now what?
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My child doesn't feel well. Now what?

Great question. The information below will help.

This document was written to help parents whose children are not feeling well.

If your child is feeling fine, but you are concerned that they may have been exposed to COVID-19 outside of school, please see

Evaluating symptoms: who needs to stay home?

If a child has ONE of the following RED symptoms, they meet the criteria of a “probable case:”

If a child has TWO or more of the following YELLOW symptoms, they also meet the criteria of a “probable case:”

Probable cases will need to get a COVID-19 test, receive a negative result, and return to normal health in order to be able to return to campus. The individual will need to isolate at home until the results of the test are received.

Individuals with one yellow symptom are no longer automatically excluded from school for twenty-four hours. Nurse Mary is Gordon’s final word on whether or not an adult or child may come to or remain on campus if they are symptomatic.

If your child has a fever, keep them home. They may return to campus after twenty-four hours of being fever-free without the use of fever-reducing medication. A COVID-19 test is not required for a child experiencing a fever, provided they are not experiencing any other symptoms of illness (COVID-related or not).

Siblings of a probable case may come to campus

The Rhode Island Department of Health no longer recommends keeping unvaccinated siblings of a probable case at home while the probable case is awaiting test results. This means that children, both vaccinated and unvaccinated, can come to school (or stay at school) if there is someone in their household who meets the criteria for a probable case, provided that child does not have symptoms.

Next steps

How should I tell Gordon my child is sick?

If your child is not cleared to be on campus after completing the safety app, keep them home. Parents do not need to call Kim O’Donnell to say the child isn’t coming in.

If students will be absent because of something other than health, the parent or caregiver should call Kim O’Donnell.

What if my child gets better?

 individuals who only have one symptom, and have been fever free for twenty-four hours without use of fever-reducing medication, and have seen the symptom improve and are back to usual health can return without a PCR test.

Do I have to get my child tested?

Symptomatic Individuals (one symptom) who are not back to their usual health within twenty-four hours or have worsening or additional new symptoms of COVID-19 can only return with a negative PCR test and attestation form.

Symptomatic individuals with two or more symptoms must get a PCR test and can only return with a negative result and attestation form. The attestation form can be found at

If my children have to stay home, should I tell Gordon families we have seen recently?

At this point in your child's illness, the Department of Health does not recommend getting in touch with other families, classmates or people outside of your child's household with whom your child has had contact

Given how the rumor mill works, it would be helpful to everyone for families to take direction from the school and from the Department of Health regarding communication about a child’s health.

If your child has a test and it does come back positive, the school and the Department of Health will provide clear and simple instructions on what to do next, and we will follow up with the appropriate communications.

What if my child has allergies, asthma, or some other chronic health condition with symptoms similar to COVID-19?

When your child has new onset of ANY symptom, the Department of Health instructs families to assume that it’s COVID-19 and not allergies. Your child should stay home and get tested.

If the PCR test result is negative and symptoms are consistent with allergies, then your child may return to school after being fever-free for twenty-four hours as long as they have a note from a doctor. If symptoms are a result of allergies, then the symptoms could be present for as long as the allergen is present. This could be for weeks or longer. Your child may attend school as long as there is no fever, no new symptoms of COVID-19, and no sudden change in symptoms.

If there is any new additional COVID-19 symptom or sudden change or worsening of runny nose or nasal congestion, then your child should stay home, seek medical advice and get tested as required to return to school.

Getting a test

How do I schedule a test?

Rhode Island has set up a testing system exclusively for Rhode Island K-12 students, faculty and staff. Non-public schools like Gordon are included in the system.

To make an appointment, go to or call 844-857-1814 between 8:30am and 5:00pm weekdays and 8:30am and 4:30pm on weekends.

This link has all of the information you will need to schedule a test.

What should I tell my child about the test?

The testing process will not look like other medical procedures your child has experienced, and it is a good idea to set the scene with them in advance if they are being tested for the first time. Please contact Nurse Hoey if you need support talking to your child about testing.

Do I have to use the K-12 testing system?

You are welcome to use any testing system you wish, but Gordon community members have found the K-12 system easy to navigate. Please remember that only a negative PCR test result will be acceptable to get your child back to school if they are a probable case.

When do I get my child tested? If they are asleep, should I wake them up and bring them in to get the test? Or wait until they are feeling better?

Book the first available test. It’s understandable to not want to take your sick child out of the house, but they should get their test as soon as they can.

Should everyone else in the house get tested too?

The Department of Health guidelines do not require that everyone in the household be tested if there is a probable case in the house. However, all household members must stay home and cannot return to Gordon until the PCR test results for the probable case are received and come back negative.

Getting test results

I heard there are two sets of results?

The K-12 testing system will perform two tests if your child is symptomatic: a rapid test and a PCR test. For people who are not exhibiting symptoms, they will just perform the PCR test.

Your child cannot return to school until you get results for the second test, the PCR test. Results from the PCR test should come back within twenty-four to forty-eight hours. However, that turnaround time may increase as more people decide to get tested.

If the rapid test is less reliable, why do they do it?

If the rapid test returns a positive result, it can help the school and the Department of Health respond quickly, particularly with contact tracing and quarantining instructions. 

How do I get my test results?

This is simpler than ever!

Test results can be found at about two days after your test. You will receive an email notifying you that the results are ready.

If you need help finding your test results, you can still call the scheduling phone number at 844-857-1814.

When you get your results, download the page or take a screenshot of the results and email them to

What does "not detected" mean?

The results may use the language "negative" or "not detected" to indicate that evidence of the COVID-19 virus was not detected in your child's system.

Missing school

How will my child keep up with their school work if they need to miss school?

If students need to be home for a few days to await test results or recover from symptoms or for a more extended period because of a quarantine order, your child’s teacher and Division Director will be in touch with you to determine a plan.

If the results are negative

Who do I tell?

Nurse Hoey will be glad to hear the news. Email her at

When can my child return to school?

Your child can return to school when all three of these conditions have been met:

Gordon will ask for a return-to-school form to be completed and sent to school with your child; it can be downloaded at

What about siblings and other people in the household who did not show symptoms?

If the PCR test results are negative for the probable case in your household, anyone else in the household who has no symptoms and can clear the safety app can return to school the next day.

Gordon will ask for a return-to-school form to be completed and sent to school with your child; it can be downloaded at

Is a negative result from the rapid test good enough to clear my child for school?

No. You need a negative test from the PCR test. Please email the test results to

If the results are positive

Who do I tell about a positive result?

If your child tests positive, please contact Nurse Hoey right away. She will advise you on next steps. The Department of Health will reach out to you as well.

The first concern will be your child's health and your family's privacy.

Gordon, the Department of Health, and your child's health care provider will all be available to support you.

Your child's illness will also mean that your family has a serious role to play in tracking, and slowing, this pandemic.

Nurse Hoey will ask you questions about your child’s health, symptoms and activities in the past two weeks. She will begin the contact tracing process and pass that information on to the Department of Health.

Gordon will be in touch with close contacts at the school (see “Who will Gordon tell?” below) and will take responsibility for getting in touch with anyone in the Gordon community who needs to be tested or needs to quarantine. This process is done carefully and confidentially. 

The Department of Health will be in touch with you as well and will be in touch with any non-Gordon people who would be considered close contacts.

Who will Gordon tell?

The school will send a letter to the families in the grades that are impacted by the positive case, sharing quarantine information and, if necessary, plans for at-home learning. Nurse Hoey will call any faculty and staff affected to inform them of their status.

The school will also communicate with all Gordon families, faculty, and staff if a student, faculty, or staff member has tested positive for COVID-19, and, when appropriate, share any quarantine protocols that the school is putting into place for people who were close contacts of the affected person.

In all of the communications described above, the name of the positive case will not be shared.

As a part of their contact tracing system, the Department of Health will communicate with anyone considered a close contact of a positive case of COVID-19. Now that schools hold the primary responsibility for communicating with close contacts, you may receive a call from the Department of Health days into your child’s quarantine.

Who needs to stay home?

If a member of your household tests positive for COVID-19, everyone in your house needs to stay home. The school will provide you with guidance on how to quarantine and for how long. The Gordon community can also be counted on to work with your family to find ways to support you and keep your children connected with the school as much as possible.

When can my child return to Gordon?

The current protocol is that your child can return to school when:

Don't you need a negative test?

No. After a person is diagnosed with COVID-19 by a positive test and has completed the recommended isolation, additional tests are not recommended and are, in fact, strongly discouraged.

Why not get another test?

There is widespread agreement in the medical community that a person who has recovered from COVID-19, who has completed isolation, and is back to normal health could have viral fragments in their system that could result in a positive COVID-19 test. These fragments are not evidence of infection but actually evidence of recovery. These fragments are not contagious. Requiring a negative test of a person who has recovered from the virus would most likely result in unnecessary and prolonged quarantining.

Other scenarios

What if my child didn't meet the criteria to get a test, but we got one anyway?

In this situation, your child may come to school as long as they do not have symptoms.

What about all the other scenarios that I can imagine, but haven't been addressed here?

This Q&A is meant to address the question of what to do when your child is home and isn't feeling well.

When your child is on campus with their siblings and their classmates, the possible scenarios become more complicated and harder to spell out in a document like this.

If something happens on campus that you need to know about, the Rhode Island Department of Health and Nurse Hoey will be in touch with your family and advise you on the appropriate response.